AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas judge has dismissed illegal voting charges against a Houston man who stood in line six hours to cast a ballot in the 2020 presidential primary and became a figure over Republican efforts to tighten election laws.
The decision this week followed a wider ruling in Texas that limits the state’s power to prosecute voting fraud cases, which has drawn backlash from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and other GOP leaders.
Hervis Rogers, who in March 2020 did not leave a polling center at a historically Black college until about 1:30 a.m., had faced charges that carried a possible sentence of two to 20 years in prison. He had voted while still on parole from a felony burglary conviction, making him ineligible to cast a ballot under Texas law.
Rogers said he did not know he was ineligible to cast a ballot when he got in line at Texas Southern University, where reporters had interviewed him and other voters who expressed anger and frustration over the long wait.
The charges against Rogers were brought by the office of Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has promoted baseless claims of widespread election fraud and challenged the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. But the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which is entirely comprised of elected Republicans judges, upheld last month that the state cannot unilaterally prosecute election fraud cases.
The case against Rogers was dismissed Monday by a judge in Montgomery County, which neighbors Houston.
“I am thankful that justice has been done,” said Rogers, who has been out on bail since last year. “It has been horrible to go through this, and I am so glad my case is over. I look forward to being able to get back to my life.”
Paxton’s office did not immediately return a message seeking comment Friday.
Thomas Buser-Clancy, an attorney for Rogers, said the state had not filed an intent to appeal. He said he could not speak to whether Rogers can or will vote in November’s election.
Rogers said he was among the last people allowed in line before polls closed at 7 p.m. He said at the time he considered leaving but told reporters that “every vote counts.”
Lines during the 2020 primary elections were longer in Houston’s mostly minority, Democratic neighborhoods, which elections officials blamed on the local GOP’s refusal to hold a joint primary that year. Republican accused the county of trying to shift the blame and said officials in Texas’ largest county failed to heed warnings about high turnout.
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