Since it went into effect, critics have raised concerns that the law would impede voters with disabilities, elderly voters and voters who do not speak English. The federal trial, now entering its second week, is providing an unusual opportunity to hear directly from voters who wanted to cast a vote but were not able to do so.
A coalition of voting rights groups, including MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, claim in their lawsuit that the law hurts people who vote by mail, those who use the help of aides known as assisters to vote and those who rely on community organizations to learn about where and how to vote.
The law added new voter identification requirements for voting by mail; made it harder to use voter assisters; set criminal penalties for poll workers if they are too forceful in reining in people at polling places; and banned 24-hour voting and drive-through voting, measures that were notably used in Harris County during the pandemic.
Lawyers representing the state countered that the new rules prevent potential voter fraud and that voters seem to be adapting better with every passing election. Election integrity means that voters “are going to have confidence in the process,” said Ryan Kercher, a lawyer for the state. In addition, Mr. Kercher said, the law allows for expanded early-voting hours to encourage more voter participation.
During cross-examination, another lawyer for the state, Will Wassdorf, pointed out to Ms. Mata that she had entered the required information in an application for a mail ballot, but that she did not do so when she mailed the actual ballot. Mr. Wassdorf then directed her attention to a video screen that showed the entries she had left blank.