Federal judge slaps down GOP push to throw out more than 100,000 ballots

Federal judge slaps down GOP push to throw out more than 100,000 ballots
President Donald J. Trump applauds the crowd and gestures with a fist pump as he disembarks Air Force One Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020, upon his arrival to Reading Regional Airport in Reading, Pa., the second of President Trump's 4 stops in Pennsylvania. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

Federal Judge Andrew Hanen in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas slapped down a case brought by a group of Republicans to throw out more than 100,000 ballots already cast in the state.

He ruled that the plaintiffs in the case, including Republican candidates for office and a Republican in the Texas legislature, did not have standing to challenge the ballots cast at a drive-through location. That means they haven't demonstrated that they have passed a the legal threshold for demonstrating that they have experienced the specific kind of harms necessary for the judiciary to consider their arguments and potentially offer a remedy.

"I'm not happy with that finding," Hanen said, according to Texas lawyer Raffi Melkonian who listened to the arguments. "But the way I look at it, the law requires it."

In Hanen's view, the Supreme Court has made it clear in such cases that this type of plaintiff doesn't have standing to successfully petition for relief.

He also said that even if he had found the plaintiffs had standing, he would not have found that the votes already cast were illegal and therefore would not have thrown them out, according to Melkonian. One major problem with the Republicans' case is that they waited too long to challenge the voting process, which has been planned for awhile and ongoing for weeks.

However, Hanen reportedly added that had he determined the plaintiff had standing, he would have prevented the drive-through voting site to continue on Nov. 3, the final day of voting. He suggested that he would not vote at the drive-through site on Tuesday because he would be concerned the votes could later be rule invalid.

The plaintiffs had claimed that the drive-through voting site had been illegally set up, even though it was approved by the country board and state officials. However, legal observers widely noted that their case was based on a misreading of the law, and the remedy of throwing out ballots cast under the rules at the time would be far too extreme even if the underlying argument was valid. The polling site in question was in Harris County, expected to be an area that votes heavily Democratic, so the Republicans likely hoped that tossing out the ballots could undermine any potential narrow Democratic wins.

Hanen is widely seen as a particularly partisan right-wing judge. But apparently this case was too much to ask of even him.

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