A federal judge in Galveston today denied the state’s request for a stay that would have allowed Texas to enforce several of its voter registration laws. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office asked for the stay on Aug. 4 — the same day it appealed an order by U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa that granted a temporary injunction sought by two Galveston residents and two national, nonpartisan groups that organize efforts to register people in areas with low registration levels. The provisions at issue include those that prohibit completed voter applications from being mailed to county offices; prohibit deputy voter registrars from registering voters in counties where they don’t live; prohibit the photocopying of voter registration cards; require voter registrars to be Texas residents; and prohibit registration drives from firing deputy registrars based on their performance. Some of the blocked provisions specifically address “volunteer deputy registrars,” the canvassers who, by law, must be appointed to take applications from prospective voters.
Costa’s injunction, which remains in place, bars enforcement of the provisions until a trial can be held to determine if they violate the 1993 National Voter Registration Act or the U.S. Constitution. No trial has been set. The plaintiffs in the case are: Project Vote, a nonprofit voter registration group; its affiliate, Voting for America; and Galveston County residents Brad Richey and Penelope McFadden. The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in Galveston in February against the state’s chief elections officer, Secretary of State Hope Andrade, and Galveston County Registrar Cheryl Johnson.