Federal court finds Governor’s mask exceptions at polling stations violated Voting Rights Act by imposing a discriminatory burden on non-white voters

San Antonio, TX–(BUSINESSWIRE)–On October 27, 2020, U.S. District Judge Jason Pulliam issued an Order finding that Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-29 exempting poll workers from health and safety mask protocols in the state during the current election to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act and immediately voiding the discriminatorially deterrent mask-mandate exceptions of GA-29. The Judge’s Order was issued in response to a lawsuit originally filed on July 15, 2020 by Mi Familia Vota, the Texas State Conference NAACP, and individual Texas voters challenging certain of Texas’ in-person election practices as unsafe, high-risk, and unequal during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

More than 2.3 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 since the pandemic began. 120,000 have died; many others experienced a debilitating disease that has resulted in hospital stays and lengthy recovery times. In Texas, the first surge of the pandemic is still trending upwards, with the number of cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities on the rise in June. Public health experts warn that the crisis will likely to worsen in Texas without immediate and serious interventions. Moreover, public health experts warn that a second wave of COVID-19 is likely to occur in the fall, coinciding with the November 2020 general elections, and may be worse than the first. Due to existing socioeconomic and healthcare disparities, Black and Latino citizens have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic and are at higher risk of serious COVID-19 illness, resulting in higher rates of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death.

Free Speech For People, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, and Lyons & Lyons LLP represent the plaintiffs pro bono. The lawsuit named Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs as defendants.

Read a copy of the Judge’s Order in the case.

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