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U.S. District Court denies attempt to stop elections grant

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Hays County is being sued alongside Dallas, Harris and Hopkins counties in an attempt to stop the counties from using election grant funding from the Center for Tech and Civic Life; similar lawsuits were filed in at least seven other states.

The Texas Voters Alliance, Donnie Wisenbaker, Alan Vera, Warren Johnson and former Chairman of the Hays County Republican Party Russell Hayter requested a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction that would prevent the counties from using the $25 million to “create disparate outcomes from the counties and municipalities not receiving these grants,” according to their application for the order.

District Judge Amos Mazzant denied the group’s request for a temporary restraining order Tuesday saying the group will not be injured if more people vote because of the private election funding. “That is not a harm. That is democracy,” he said.

The case is still open according to the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas and Judge Ruben Becerra. “It is an active lawsuit until I am told otherwise,” Becerra said.

Similar lawsuits were blocked in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan and are pending in Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Georgia. 

The lawsuit was filed by Clyde Siebman and Erick G. Kaardal, both Special Counsel for the Amistad Project of Thomas More Society. Kaardal also filed a similar suit in Iowa. 

The Thomas More Society argues that the grants, which were funded through a $300 million donation from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, would disproportionately favor progressives, even though the grants have been made available to all municipalities nationwide.

The lawsuit also argued that the organization has a pattern of providing private federal election grants to cities and counties with demographics showing progressive voting pattern, and that the plaintiffs are injured by the grant because they are targeted to counties and cities with progressive voter patterns and, “the plaintiffs do not want progressive candidates to win in the November 3 elections.”

CTCL describes itself as a non-partisan organization backed by Democrats, Republicans and independents. It says more than 2,100 election administrators have applied for the grants.

U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney in Michigan on Monday rejected the allegation that the center targets progressive areas, saying its grants are going to municipalities of all political majorities. 

President Donald Trump narrowly won the 2016 General Election in Hays County by 602 votes.

For the counties that received funding, CTCL directed it to be used exclusively to help ensure a safe and secure election in 2020.

Of the $25 million, the Hays County Elections Administration Office accepted $289,000 from CTCL on Sept. 29. The funding was allocated for, “additional supplies for personal protection equipment, additional office supplies related to ballot-by-mail processing, additional equipment for opening ballot by mail and folding ballots, temporary employees for assistance with ballot by mail processing and receiving, and marketing and signage to introduce new protocols and procedures for in-person voting and hand delivery of mail ballots in a COVID 19 Pandemic election year.”

Elections Administrator Jennifer Anderson sent the county’s Safe Voting Plan to CTCL on Sept. 11, outlining the county’s needs. “The investments outlined above will allow Hays County to reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus for voters, election staff and poll workers; identify best practices; innovate to efficiently and effectively educate our residents about how to exercise their right to vote; be intentional and strategic in reaching our historically disenfranchised residents and communities; and, above all, ensure the right to vote in a diversity of communities throughout the county.”

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666