Alabama: Supreme Court Conservatives Agree With Alabama Conservatives: Voting Should Be Dangerous and Difficult, as the Founding Fathers Intended | Elliot Hannon/Slate

In an unsurprising twist, the state of Alabama has moved to make it harder to vote in next month’s election by prohibiting curbside voting. On Wednesday, the conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court unsurprisingly agreed that forcing at-risk voters into the polling booth during a pandemic was how the Founding Fathers would have wanted it—you know, original intent and all. The Supreme Court’s conservatives ruled 5 to 3 on an emergency application to block a lower court decision that said counties in the state could offer curbside voting if they wanted to. The court sided with Alabama’s Republican secretary of state, John Merrill, who barred counties from allowing a form of contactless curbside voting that is being allowed in various forms across the country, including notoriously vote-suppressing states like Texas. “Some level of risk is inherent in life and in voting, pandemic or no,” Merrill argued.

Alabama law does not weigh in on curbside voting, and it’s a practice that some counties in the state have used in the past. When Merrill decided, at the height of the pandemic, to prohibit the practice of essentially dropping off your vote with an election worker, rather than waiting in line and doing the same act inside a fire station or elementary school, several Alabamians sued on the grounds that the prohibition violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by not providing a reasonable accommodation for vulnerable voters. Those voters are primarily elderly residents and those with health conditions that make them high-risk if they contract the coronavirus. Last month, a federal court agreed that a curbside accommodation—that was optional, not required—was reasonable.

Texas Supreme Court rules that voters in Harris County may continue using drive-thru voting | Jolie McCullough/The Texas Tribune

Voters in the state’s most populous county can continue casting their ballots for the fall election at 10 drive-thru polling places after the Texas Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a last-minute challenge by the Texas and Harris County Republican parties, one of many lawsuits in an election season ripe with litigation over voting access. The court rejected the challenge without an order or opinion, though Justice John Devine dissented from the decision. The justices had already ruled against another challenge to expanded voting access this month because they said the lawsuit was filed too late, noting that altering voting procedures during an election could cause voter confusion.In an effort to expand access to voting during the pandemic, Harris County announced in June that it would set up 10 drive-thru polling locations available to all voters, the county clerk’s office explained in its filing to the Supreme Court. The county first tested the program with 200 voters in the July primary runoff election. At the locations, lines of cars are guided into either covered tents or a parking garage where poll workers check voters’ photo identification and registration status. Voters are handed a portable voting machine in their car to cast their ballots, the clerk’s filing said.

Alabama: US Supreme Court Bars Curbside Voting in Alabama | Adam Liptak/The New York Times

The Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked a trial judge’s ruling that would have allowed, but not required, counties in Alabama to offer curbside voting.The vote was 5 to 3, with the court’s more conservative members in the majority.The court’s brief, unsigned order gave no reasons, which is typical when it rules on emergency applications, and it said the order would remain in effect while appeals moved forward.In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan, said the state’s policy discriminated against older and disabled voters.“If those vulnerable voters wish to vote in person,” Justice Sotomayor wrote, “they must wait inside, for as long as it takes, in a crowd of fellow voters whom Alabama does not require to wear face coverings,” referring to masks that help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.