Earlier this year, Republicans in Dallas County, Texas filed a lawsuit attempting to boot 127 Democratic candidates from the ballot for this year's elections, claiming the Democratic Party head did not follow the letter of the law when she authorized someone else to sign the candidates' petitions.
Though early voting for the primary has already begun, the issue remains tied up in court and, if decided in favor of the Republicans, will see every one of the petitions in question tossed to the curb.
In a lawsuit filed in January—and currently stalled thanks to a tiff over the judge assigned to the case—Republicans argue the Dallas County Democratic Party chair properly authorized only a fraction of the party’s 150 primary candidates. Republicans have asked that 127 candidates be thrown off the March 6 primary ballot, and the Dallas County GOP has amended its suit to apply to the November general election because absentee ballots for the primary had already been mailed by the lawsuit’s filing date. Early voting for the primary began February 20.
Republicans have maintained that their sole concern is ensuring that Democrats follow the law, but Democrats are not buying it:
Democrats have taken the move as a last-ditch attempt by the GOP to win elections in traditionally blue Dallas County—accusations Alvarez-Bingham fervently denies. The lawsuit comes as Texas Democrats are experiencing high voter turnout statewide and are running more candidates in traditionally red districts. A recent CNN analysis revealed US Senate challenger Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat, has a better chance than anticipated at unseating Ted Cruz.
While the issue is tied up in the courts, Democratic candidates are left hanging:
“This is my life—running for office—and to know it could be in jeopardy for some technicality or some arbitrary interpretation was ridiculous,” said Ana Maria Ramos, a community college professor running for Texas House District 102. “It was just appalling.”
Though experts say it is unlikely the Republicans will prevail, people of color -- who tend to vote Democratic -- would be unheard if they do.
“You’re robbing people of the ability of being able to vote in these races, which is effectively muting their political voice,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston.
Randy Johnston, who represents the Democrats in the case, believes Republicans are using the technicality to intentionally suppress the minority vote.
Johnston, the Democrats’ lawyer, says the takeaway of the entire ordeal is simple: For Republicans, “winning at the courthouse can be easier than winning at the ballot box.”