The Texas Supreme court has shut down a Republican request to have nearly 127,000 ballots already cast in the Houston area to be thrown out.
The Texas GOP filed a petition with the state’s highest court to toss the ballots cast at drive-thru voting places in Harris county. But the all-Republican high court rejected the request on Sunday without explaining its decision, the Associated Press reports.
Republicans have filed a barrage of court challenges over moves to expand voting options during the COVID-19 pandemic and have railed against expanded voting access in Harris County, where a record 1.4 million early votes have already been cast.
Harris County is the nation’s third-largest and a crucial battleground in Texas, where President Donald Trump and Republicans are bracing for the closest election in decades on Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen is expected to rule on the same issue on Monday. Hanen’s decision to hear arguments on the brink of Election Day drew attention from voting rights activists. The Texas Supreme Court also rejected a nearly identical challenge last month.
Trump won Texas by nine points in 2016 but polls have shown Democratic nominee Joe Biden still within reach in America’s biggest red state.
Democrats need to flip only nine seats to reclaim a majority in the Texas House for the first time in 20 years and have aggressively targeted several races in Harris County.
Harris County has offered 10 drive-thru locations where its nearly 5 million residents can cast ballots in their cars instead of going inside polling centers. The accommodation aims to prevent transmission of the coronavirus.
The Texas Supreme Court, which is controlled entirely by Republicans, rejected an identical lawsuit last month.
More than 9.7 million people have cast early ballots in Texas, where turnout typically ranks among the lowest in the country. Some elections experts predict that total turnout in Texas could surpass 12 million, and Harris County officials have taken more steps than most to expand voting access. The state has already surpassed 2016′s total votes even before Tuesday’s election.