Texas just showed America a textbook example of voter suppression. In detail, Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos rejected 2,400 voter registrations on October 3, 2018, The Houston Chronicle reports.
Notably, the deadline for voter registration for the November 6 mid-term elections was October 9, 2018. Obviously, Pablos could have had good reason to reject the registrations but the timing is suspicious.
A liberal group called Vote.org collected the forms using a new online digital registration process. Specifically, the group tested its Vote.org API (application programming interface). To explain, the API allows voters to register with a digital signature.
Pablos action is suspicious because he is a Republican and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) faces a close reelection battle on November 6, 2018. Therefore, politically motivated voter suppression not election security could be the Secretary’s real motivation.
Texas Voter Suppression Hurts Everybody even Republicans
Vote.org was forced to mail paper applications to all 2,400 voter applicants. There is a strong possibility many of them will not get registered because of the timing.
Pablos’ action sends a terrible message to average people; don’t even try to register to vote because it will not matter. Even if voter suppression was not intended that is the result.
Moreover, Pablos is hurting Republicans by sending out a horrendous message. To explain, the message is: “the GOP only wants old white people to vote, everybody else should stay home.”
Millennials and people of color; whose votes Texas Republicans need, get the message: “only Democrats care about us.” Latinos, in particular, have received the memo, 57% of Hispanic voters prefer Democrat Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), The New York Times estimates.
Racist Voter Suppression will destroy the GOP
Texas’s Grand Old Party (GOP) cannot survive without nonwhite votes. For instance, 58% of the Lone Start State’s population was nonwhite or Hispanic in 2017, the US Census Bureau calculated. Obviously, a party that excludes 58% of voters will lose elections.
There is evidence the GOP is only winning in Texas because of voter suppression. For example, Texas has the lowest voter participation rate of any state in the nation just 28.5%, The Guardian claims.
Racist voter suppression efforts will hurt Texas Republicans because more whites are dying than being born. To clarify, The New York Times reports the death rate for white Americans is higher than the white birth rate in most states.
Therefore, racist voter suppression will help Republicans in office right now; like Cruz and Governor Greg Abbott (R). For instance, The New York Times estimates Cruz is leading O’Rourke by 8% in polls.
On the other hand, younger Texas Republicans that want to hold office will have a tough time in 2030 or 2032. California offers Texas Republicans a glimpse of that future.
To demonstrate; 69% of California voters prefer Democratic candidates in that state’s Senate race, The Sacramento Bee reports. Moreover, Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R-San Diego) was receiving the support of 39% of voters.
Texas Republicans are apparently destroying their future to win elections today.
How to Eliminate Voter Suppression
Voter suppression must end if we want American to have effective political parties and a functioning democracy.
The logical way to end voter suppression is to take voter registration out of the hands of elected officials. To explain, elected officials will always have a strong incentive to suppress votes to help the party.
A new voting rights act that mandates automatic voter registration, digital voter registration nationwide is the logical way to end voter suppression. If we make voter registration simple and frictionless most of the opportunities for suppression will disappear.
Additionally, going to all mail-in or digital elections that eliminate the polling place could eliminate more voter suppression. A great deal of voter suppression occurs at the polls. For instance, “volunteers;” political activists, often challenge the legal status or identities of people likely to vote for their party’s opponents.
A related method is limiting the number of polling places, and the hours the polls operate. Notably, Republicans try to close the polls as early as possible to keep younger working people (probable Democrats) from voting. In addition, Republican officials refuse to open polling places in African American neighborhoods.
For example, Colorado achieved a voter turnout of 72.1%; the third highest in the nation, with mail in ballots in 2016, The Denver Post reports. In contrast, the national voter turnout rate was 60.2%.
Finally, we need a Justice Department dedicated to prosecuting vote suppressors. Officials like Abbott and Pablos will think twice about suppressing votes if they know such activities could to a prison sentence.
The damage voter suppression is doing to our political system is incalculable. Both parties need to end the practice now before it leads to noncompetitive elections and one party rule.