New Texas voting law attacks democracy


World Travel & Tourism Council, CC BY 2.0 | Wikimedia Commons

Jahlil Rush, Production Assistant

Voting rights in the United States are under attack by Republican lawmakers in red-state strongholds like Texas and Georgia. The United States Department of Justice’s action to sue Texas over its recently signed voting laws only proves that swift action is necessary in the fight for equal voting rights in the United States.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit claiming that the new Texas voting law holds provisions that will alienate eligible voters. On Sept. 7, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, signed into law a bill that bans 24-hour and drive-through voting.

Abbott proclaims that his new controversial bill will make voting easier for the people of Texas while safe-guarding against voter fraud.

“It does make it easier than ever before for anybody to go cast a ballot. It does also, however, make sure it is harder than ever for people to cheat at the ballot box,” Abbott said at the bill signing event.

Despite Abbott’s remarks, the law includes absurd restrictions like the ban on 24-hour voting.

According to a report from CNN, Harris County in Houston, Texas opened eight locations for 24-hour early voting. The newfound voting possibility was popular among shift workers in the county. The bill will now prohibit counties from offering 24 hours voting due to a provision that forces polling sites to stay open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Abbott’s decision to interfere with 24-hour voting does not align with his statements. The only logical motivator for the law is the Republican political agenda.

Since President Joe Biden was announced as the official winner of the 2020 presidential election, Republicans’ new battle cry is “election fraud.”

Texas Republicans fail to acknowledge that the voting measures they are eliminating actually improve the election integrity they claim to be advocating for. For example, having 24-hour access to voting comes with natural heightened security to ensure that the election results are correct.

Texas arguably has the most restrictive voting rules in the nation, a note that the Biden-era Justice Department took in their lawsuit against Texas.

“The State of Texas’s history of official voting-related discrimination against its disfavored citizens is longstanding and well-documented,” officials wrote. “Federal intervention has been necessary to eliminate numerous devices intentionally used to restrict minority voting in Texas.”

The Texas law also gives newfound power to poll watchers. Partisan poll watchers cannot be denied “free movement” at polling sites, while poll watchers still cannot physically watch a voter cast their ballot at the voting station.

However, Texas is granting them permission to sit or stand near enough to see and hear the voter cast their ballot.

Under this new law, poll watchers can also watch how closing activities at polling sites are conducted.

This increased power to poll workers is one of the most dangerous aspects of the law. It reminds disenfranchised voters of color of the past when men in uniforms stood outside polling places in largely minority neighborhoods.

Additionally, the nation’s most recent presidential election during a global pandemic forced an unprecedented number of people to vote by mail.

The Texas voting law is also calling for voters, particularly people over the age of 65 or those who have a disability or illness, to provide the last four digits of their social security numbers or driver’s license instead of voting in-person.

The Biden-era Justice Department taking steps to protect democracy legally can be interpreted as a crucial step in the fight for voting rights, but for some people, particularly Black people, they may express further frustration.

Senate Republicans recently blocked second major voting legislation named after the late Rep. John Lewis. The bill requires 60 votes, even with a Democrat majority Senate, requiring Republicans to reach across the political aisle and work with the Democrats.

But it is hard to work with Republicans who are embracing Texas’ practices of voter intimidation.page2image33218432 page2image33218624

In a political era where it seems that the idea of democracy is slowly becoming a fantasy, voting is the only weapon that everyday people have at their disposal. Democracy must be protected for the next generation and beyond.