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Voters young and old sue Texas for voter suppression

File image of voting sign in Austin. (CBS Austin)
File image of voting sign in Austin. (CBS Austin)
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The State of Texas is accused of voter suppression in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The suit filed against Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs alleges a new law is keeping the state's oldest and youngest voters from the polls. Now the plaintiffs are asking for a judge to strike down House Bill 1888 in 90 days.

Terrell Blodgett, 96, is a longtime Austin resident, Army veteran and an avid voter. "I think it really does make a difference at the local, state and federal level," says Blodgett.

However, this fall, Blodgett didn't vote for the first time in years. The mobile early voting location inside his home at Westminster -- a central Austin senior living facility-- was removed after the Texas legislature passed HB 1888 during the 2019 legislative session.

"Under this new law, unless you keep a location open for the entire two weeks of early voting you can't have it open at all, so it makes it extremely expensive to create this access to early voting," explains civil rights attorney Mike Siegel.

Blodgett says he and his neighbors used to vote within the walls of their home but in November they had to take a shuttle to a library if they wanted to vote-- something Blodgett wasn't well enough to do.

"Our people... many of them are about like I am in mobility. They don't have the strength or will to put out extra efforts," says Blodgett. He explains, voting by mail is a hassle and not as meaningful as casting a ballot on your own.

"It's a needless law and it's a discriminatory law that needs to be overturned in the courts," says Blodgett.

Also joining the lawsuit are young Democrats who say limiting polling places hurts college students and voters without transportation.

"Some students only get one day to vote on campus and there are stories of studies walking 40 minutes just to cast their ballot," says Joe Cascino, political director for Texas College Democrats.

"We will no longer sit on the sidelines while voting rights are systematically deconstructed by a party that is terrified by the equitable and inclusive future that we will build," says Kolby Duhon, president of Texas Young Democrats.

Together the group is asking the court to stop the new law before the 2020 primary. Siegel believes some Texas lawmakers passed the bill in an attempt to harm Democratic voter turnout.

"This was targeted at suppressing the youth vote-- and in the case of Mr. Blodgett this is taking away a reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities. We think we can prove those things and get this law stopped before March," says Siegel.

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CBS Austin reached out to Texas lawmakers Greg Bonnen, Candy Noble and Drew Springer who were authors on House Bill 1888. None have responded to requests for comment. CBS Austin also reached out to the Secretary of State's office but have not received a response.

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