A new study confirms what Texas Democrats have been saying all along, that Texas isn’t a “red state,” it’s a state where Republicans have used voter suppression tactics to maintain power.
A team of political scientists have compiled a “cost of voting index” which ranks states by barriers to voting and Texas is ranked 50 out of 50. They found among other barriers that Texas had, “ reduced the number of polling stations in some parts of the state by more than 50 percent and has the most restrictive pre-registration law in the country.” Other major factors considered were, registration deadlines, voter registration restrictions, voting inconvenience, voter ID laws, and polling hours.
Texas’ ranking has fallen dramatically since 1996 when Democrats last led the state. Just consider the number of attempts the Texas GOP has made over the last few months during a pandemic to make voting more difficult:
- They sued to shorten the Early Voting period.
- They sued to prevent mail in ballots.
- They sued to prevent additional mail ballot drop boxes.
- They sued to stop drive-through voting.
- The governor refused to issue a mask mandate for in person voting.
Despite every suppression effort Texans are waiting in long lines and voting in record numbers. One reason for those long lines is that the GOP also ended straight ticket voting which means a voter must vote in each race separately instead of voting for the party slate. In urban areas where populations of Democrats are denser the ballots are also significantly longer because of so many judicial and local races.
This, along with policies that ban online voter registration, is all by design. As one astronaut made clear on Twitter, the Texas election code allows astronauts to vote from space but everyday Texans can’t vote from home.
There can be no doubt that next year Republicans will also again use the redistricting process to benefit their party over their constituents just as they are currently doing with the Census. And, sadly, their scheme to entrench their hold over government will continue to come at the expense of minority representation.
Fortunately, there is something Texans can do. We can support candidates who believe voters should choose their representatives and not the other way around, candidates who support efforts to expand ballot access to eligible voters like online registration, same day registration and ending age and ability discrimination in absentee voting. In 2020, that means voting for Democrats up and down the ballot and ending the one-party rule in Texas that has consistently sought to dismantle our democratic institutions and breed mistrust in our election process. Don’t let fear and cynicism win this election, learn how to safely cast your vote before or on Nov. 3rd.
Remember, if your vote didn’t matter they wouldn’t try so hard to stop you from casting it.
Photo: Edward A. Ornelas/Getty Images
Joe Deshotel is originally from Beaumont, Texas, but a combination of live music, politics, and natural beauty brought him to Austin in 2010. He has over a decade of experience in public policy that covers federal, state, and local government and has worked on a number of successful election campaigns. He continues to consult on Democratic campaigns and serves as the Chair of Austin’s Community Development Commission which advocates for affordable housing and solutions for homelessness.