The Texas Civil Rights Project filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to keep Bexar County elections officials from closing roughly 40 Election Day polling locations.
The move comes after activists and Democrats on the Commissioners Court begged Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen to maintain the number of locations to accommodate what they anticipate will be a high turnout election.
Commissioners approved Callanen’s initial list of 259, but asked her to come back with additional locations to get to 302, and added money into the county’s budget to fund them.
“The county attorneys talked to her, but ultimately can’t really order her to do anything absent a court order,” said Joaquin Gonzalez, a lawyer for the Texas Civil Rights Project, which filed the suit on behalf of the Texas Organizing Project.
Callanen’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit Tuesday.
A coalition of progressive groups represented by the Texas Civil Rights Project succeeded in getting a judge to increase the number of voting locations in 2020.
“It’s literally the exact same case that was brought last time,” Gonzalez said in an interview Tuesday.
In both instances, the Texas Civil Rights Project argued that state law requires half of the county’s 776 elections precincts to have a polling location.
Callanen, meanwhile, says her office wouldn’t have the manpower to staff all of the locations. She contends they need to eliminate sites that see the least traffic.
“We would have so much better success with fewer sites, where we could mobilize the equipment and put it at some of the larger sites,” Callanen said at a meeting of the county’s election board in August.
Because the lawsuit was so close to the election in 2020, the Texas Civil Rights Project settled for restoring the number of locations to the number used in 2018, which was 302.
This time it’s asking the county to increase the number of voting locations to 388, as state statute requires.
“There is more time this time than last time, by a little over a week at least,” said Gonzales. “So I think there will be time for the county to add more locations than it did last time.”