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For Immediate Release
January 25, 1999

For Further Information, Contact:
Deborah M Phillips (888) 578-4343
M. Miller Baker (202) 310-5583

Voting Integrity Project Files Federal Lawsuit to Block Early Voting in Texas Federal Elections

Houston, Texas (January 25, 1999) -- The Voting Integrity Project, Inc. and five Texas voters filed suit today in U.S. District Court in Houston to block early voting by personal appearance in Texas federal elections. The lawsuit alleges that the Texas early voting by personal appearance statutes, which permit unlimited voting at designated polling places up to seventeen days prior to the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November, violates federal laws that confine voting in presidential and congressional elections to a single day in November for voters otherwise able to vote on that day.

The Arlington, Virginia-based Voting Integrity Project is a non-profit and non-partisan educational corporation that seeks to preserve the integrity of American elections by educational activities, and where appropriate, by challenging unlawful election practices in litigation. We brought this Texas lawsuit because unlimited early voting, however convenient, erodes the integrity of the ballot, said Deborah Phillips, President of the Voting Integrity Project. Unlimited early voting thwarts the ability of citizens concerned about election integrity to monitor the conduct of elections through the practice of poll watching, Phillips said, and permits unscrupulous election officials to manipulate turnout by strategically locating early voting polling places. Early voting diffuses an election, added Phillips, and denies early voters access to late-breaking information (or campaigning) that might influence their votes.

The Voting Integrity Project lawsuit does not challenge Texas statutes that permit early voting by mail for citizens unable to vote at the polls on election day, said Phillips. The Voting Integrity Project supports traditional absentee voting by voters otherwise unable to vote on election day said Phillips, as long as such limited absentee balloting is subject to appropriate safeguards to prevent election fraud.

The Voting Integrity Project is represented in the Texas suit by M. Miller Baker of the Washington, D.C. law firm of Carr Goodson Warner. Recently, Baker successfully represented Louisiana voters who challenged that states often conclusive October open primary on the basis that it conflicted with federal statutes that require congressional elections be held on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November. On December 2, 1997, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Bakers clients in the case of Foster v. Love. We believe that the Texas early voting by personal appearance statutes should be struck down for essentially the same reason that the Supreme Court struck down the Louisiana October primary, said Phillips.

This Texas early voting lawsuit follows a similar federal court lawsuit recently brought by the Voting Integrity Project against Oregons new vote-by-mail-only election system. The federal district court in that case will hear argument on March 16, 1999, in Portland, Oregon.

Copyright 1999 Voting Integrity Project. All rights reserved.

Copyright 1998 Voting Integrity Project. All rights reserved.
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