The Republican Party of Texas sued Governor Abbott on Wednesday over his order to expand early voting. The Party filed an emergency writ of mandamus petition with the Texas Supreme Court to stop the Texas Secretary of State from carrying out Abbott’s executive order. Houston Attorney Jared Woodfill filed the suit. “Texas constitution says very clearly that only the legislature can suspend laws,” said Woodfill. “You compare that to Governor Abbott's orders, time and time again he says he is suspending laws. So what he's chosen to do is ignore the texts constitution and go at it alone.”
In late July Governor Abbott issued an executive order extending early voting by 6-days. Instead of starting on October 19th as originally scheduled, early voting wound now begin on October 13th. At the time he released the following statement. "As we respond to COVID-19, the State of Texas is focused on strategies that preserve Texans’ ability to vote in a way that also mitigates the spread of the virus," said Governor Abbott. "By extending the early voting period and expanding the period in which mail-in ballots can be hand-delivered, Texans will have greater flexibility to cast their ballots, while at the same time protecting themselves and others from COVID-19."
Abbott contends that his actions are legal under the Texas Disaster Act of 1975, which gives him enhanced authority in times of crisis. The Act is also at the center of the Republican Party of Texas’s legal challenge. Their Attorney Jared Woodfill disagrees with the Governor’s interpretation of his powers under the Act. “Nowhere in that Texas Disaster Act does it say the Governor can unilaterally amend the Texas election code,” said Woodfill. “So I think it's up to the Texas Supreme court to decide whether or not the act itself is constitutional as applied by Governor Abbott.”
The Republican Party lawsuit was also filed on behalf of conservative activist Dr. Steven Hotze, TX GOP Party Chair Allen West, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and members of the Texas Legislature.