The Justice Department said in a filing on Friday that the primary schedule proposed by the Texas Republican Party wouldn’t give enough time for military and overseas voters to participate in the election process in violation of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.
Here’s the kicker: conservatives — led by Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn — have long been on a crusade against the Justice Department for what they said was a failure to protect military voters under the MOVE Act.
Now it’s Texas’ Republican Party which would be violating the law. The party suggested on Jan. 23 that the court issue an order stating that ballots to voters subject to the MOVE Act should be mailed on March 9 “Notwithstanding the requirements of the MOVE Act,” even thought the election is supposed to be held on April 3.
Justice Department lawyers said that the Republican Party “has proposed shortening the amount of time that military and overseas voters will have to participate in the election” and that such proposals are in “conflict with UOCAVA’s explicit requirement that states transmit ballots to the voters protected under the act at least 45 days before a federal election.”
The reason Texas officials are on such a tight schedule is because the redistricting maps drawn by state legislatures and signed by Gov. Rick Perry haven’t been cleared under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which applies to states with a history of racial discrimination. Final arguments in the redistricting case had been scheduled in D.C. federal court on Monday, but there were increasing signs late Friday that the Texas Attorney General and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus might be able to strike some sort of deal.
DOJ’s attorneys say they “understand the State of Texas and its officials have important interests in being able to administer an orderly election following the resolution of the claims before the Court and recognize the timing challenges the Court and the parties now face.”
But they say it’s “essential that Texas’ UOCAVA voters, many of whom are deployed at home and abroad in service to our country, are provided the full opportunity to vote embodied in UOCAVA.”