HOUSTON - Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins is asking Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs to help clarify drive-thru voting is legal.
On Tuesday, he sent Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs a letter to ensure voters that drive-thru voting is legal. He says Hughs and her office have repeatedly expressed drive-thru voting fit definitions and requirements for a polling place according to the Texas Election Code. He gave the secretary a Wednesday deadline of noon, but she has yet to respond.
More than 70,000 voters in Harris County have used the drive-thru voting option according to Hollins.
“I want to be very clear here. Drive-thru voting is within the bounds of the law,” said Hollins.
Local Republicans claimed the method isn’t valid and illegal in front of the Harris County Courthouse.
We turned to Gerald Birnberg to break down the legality of drive thru voting. He is an election law expert and professor at South Texas College of Law.
“It is the Texas Secretary of State. Not for example, the Attorney General, who is the Chief Elections Officer of the State of Texas. The Secretary of State’s Office has been giving guidance for months saying that this is perfectly lawful,” said Birnberg.
Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a guidance letter stating “the Code makes no provision for drive-thru voting centers at which any voter may cast a ballot from his or her vehicle regardless of physical condition.”
Birnberg’s response: “There’s no provision in the election code for wearing a shirt when you go in to vote. My point is the election code says that a polling station should be inside of a building and a building is defined under law as a structure with a roof and walls,” said Birnberg. “Drive-thru voting simply means, you are driving into a physical structural location such as a parking garage, and you are directed to a particular parking space in that parking garage. That parking space is immediately adjacent to the voting equipment. There’s a poll worker there that takes all of your information. A poll worker hands over the voting machine.”
It’s a process that Hollins stands by.
“It is crucially important that we protect the integrity of our voting system and that we give voters the peace of mind that their votes are going to be counted in this and every election. My office is committed to that, I believe the Secretary of State’s office is committed to that. The silence is a cause for concern and needs to be addressed immediately.“
No response has been given yet by Hughs.