October 24, 2020

Editorial: Texas Republicans tried to stop voters. They lost.


The final word results of the record-breaking turnout we noticed final week is anybody’s guess, however one factor is evident: Democracy is successful, and Texas Republicans’ voter suppression efforts are dropping.

Greater than 2 million Texans solid their ballots within the first three days of early voting, typically braving lengthy strains in a strong repudiation of the GOP’s sustained marketing campaign to dam their paths to the poll field.

In-person voting throughout a pandemic was all the time going to be difficult and states all through the nation — together with a number of led by Republicans, from Mississippi to Iowa — have acted responsibly, easing restrictions to scale back threat.

Not Texas.

Cloaked in false arguments about election integrity, Republican state officers and right-wing activists have shamelessly opposed commonsense measures supposed to make sure voters’ security.

Nowhere is that this extra evident than within the state’s refusal to develop voting by mail. Texas limits eligibility to request an absentee poll to these 65 or older, the disabled, individuals out of the county in the course of the election and people in jail however in any other case certified.

Proponents of increasing the definition of incapacity to incorporate all voters due to the well being threat posed by the pandemic met fast opposition by Legal professional Normal Ken Paxton. After buying and selling decrease court docket victories, the all-Republican Texas Supreme Courtroom sided with Paxton, figuring out the legislation doesn’t enable voters to request a poll solely as a result of they concern contracting COVID-19. Within the ruling, the court docket stated the possibility of dying from the illness was tiny, and an individual’s threat of contracting it couldn’t by itself be thought of a bodily incapacity.

The court docket did add, nevertheless, {that a} voter may take “into consideration features of his well being and his well being historical past which are bodily situations in deciding whether or not, beneath the circumstances, to use to vote by mail due to incapacity.” In different phrases, a diabetic may fairly conclude that she ought to keep away from the danger of contracting the virus whereas voting, and lawfully request a mail-in poll. Elections officers, the court docket added, couldn’t query a voter’s assertion that they certified to vote absentee.

Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins neatly noticed this as a chance to ship out absentee poll functions to all county voters — together with clear steerage on the court docket’s resolution — and permit them to decide on in the event that they certified to vote by mail.

Paxton and conservative activists sued, arguing that Hollins’ actions exceeded his statutory authority and would create confusion and facilitate fraud. The Texas Supreme Courtroom once more sided with the lawyer basic, even though state legislation doesn’t explicitly prohibit the mailings, or that there’s nearly no proof of widespread voter fraud or that the court docket’s personal ruling gave voters the ultimate say. The court docket purchased the specious argument that merely sending functions to voters who may not qualify to vote by mail would create illegal confusion.

Activists, led by Steve Hotze and the Harris County GOP, additionally sued to cut back the early voting interval — which had been expanded by Gov. Greg Abbott and was the lone vibrant spot of pandemic voting measures taken by the state — and claimed the legislation didn’t enable for voters to drop off their ballots earlier than Election Day.

A separate swimsuit by the Texas and Harris County GOP towards Harris County sought to limit the variety of poll drop-off websites, which at that time included a dozen places and supplied a handy various to utilizing the U.S. Postal Service, which had already warned of supply points and attainable delays of absentee ballots.

Activists had been unsuccessful in swaying the courts to restrict early voting. However the governor proved a extra receptive viewers on mail voting. Lower than two weeks earlier than the beginning of early voting, Abbott restricted counties to a single drop-off location, saying it was essential to “cease makes an attempt at unlawful voting.”

That’s absurd. To make use of any drop-off location, voters should ship their very own ballots, check in, communicate with an assistant clerk and supply identification. These tortured claims can’t conceal the insidious intent behind these fits: To make it more durable to vote. Name it no matter you care to, election safety or concern of democracy, however its impact is voter suppression.

In a final, throw-in-the-kitchen-sink transfer reeking of desperation, the Texas Republican Celebration sued Monday to position limits on curbside voting and halt drive-thru voting in Harris County. The 14th Courtroom of Appeals mercifully killed the case, however the get together stays stained by the hassle.

All these efforts by Texas Republicans betray a concern of the voter, a refusal to be held accountable and a hope that even when their insurance policies are unpopular, they will rig the system and cling to energy.

That’s undemocratic and un-American.

Elected officers should submit themselves to democracy’s final arbiter. Republicans have made their case and now it’s time for the individuals to be heard.

We gained’t know until after Election Day what they’re saying, however because the early voting numbers confirmed all final week, they’re saying it very loudly.



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