As Primaries Roll Along, GOP States Predictably Suppress Minority Votes

Super Tuesday is upon us, and the Republican party is wasting no time doing what it does best every election–disenfranchising minorities who consistently vote Democratic.

We turn our sights to Texas, where, since 2012 more polling places than in any other Southern state–750–have shut down.

In 2012, the state had established one polling place for every 4,000 residents; six years later, those numbers climbed to 7,700 residents.

According to the civil rights group Leadership Conference Education Fund, the majority of polling place closures occurred in areas with the largest African American and Latino resident increases; specifically, the 50 counties that experienced the highest increases in those populations saw 542 polling sites close.

A report from the Leadership Conference Education Fund states:

“Closing polling places has a cascading effect, leading to long lines at other polling places, transportation hurdles, denial of language assistance and other forms of in-person help, and mass confusion about where eligible voters may cast their ballot. For many people, and particularly for voters of color, older voters, rural voters, and voters with disabilities, these burdens make it harder—and sometimes impossible—to vote.”

Some counties closed enough polling stations to violate Texas state law.

Brazoria county, south of Houston, for example, closed nearly 60% between 2012 and 2018, driving it below the statutory minimum.

Progressive advocacy group MoveOn tweeted:

Texas Democrat running for Congress, Julie Oliver, said her state is “now in an accelerated period of illegal racist voter suppression.”

She added:

“Ever since Jim Crow, Texas has severely restricted the right to vote. Those restrictions have explicitly targeted Black and Latino communities.”

The Republican party has not legitimately won the White House since Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s.

Even though November 2018’s mid-term election results were historic, it does not mean the GOP has forgotten how to cheat to win.

From foreign trolls and botsFox NewsSinclair Broadcasting, right-wing hate radio, dog-whistle (and not-so-dog-whistle) racismmendacious Facebook ads, and Donald Trump’s thousands of lies, the Republican party has its machine’s gears well-oiled.

Yet there is one area the Grand Old Party has identified as the country’s oft-ignored Achilles’ heel–voting.

In 2008, the Republican party was licking its wounds after the country elected its first African-American president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.

So Republicans came up with a strategy: concentrate on 16 states and gerrymander them so badly Democrats have little to no mathematical chance of winning in the 2010 mid-term elections.

But there was another, more insidious strategy.

Republicans knew they couldn’t come right out and criminalize voting, so they devised ways to make casting ballots harder, more inconvenient, frustrating, hoping people would stay home rather than go through all the trouble to practice their civic duty.

That’s when the term “voter fraud” started circulating around right-wing media. Simply accuse random people (mostly immigrants) of voting illegally, and enough “patriots” would rise up in an altruistic fervor to fortify the most fundamental of democratic institutions against those who seek to denigrate it.

Some (Republican) states began instituting “voter-I.D.” laws, requiring birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, passports, to “protect election integrity.” After all, minorities vote primarily for Democrats. If they are to preserve their hegemony, Republicans must take evasive measures.

Voter fraud, however, is a myth.

Voter suppression is very much alive in America, and Republican states are setting a record for purging voting roles.

A recent study from the Brennan Center for Justice reported in August that, between 2016 and 2018, at least 17 million voters were purged from nationwide voting rolls.

Voting districts with voter discrimination histories have purged 40% beyond the national average.

This is due almost entirely to the 2013 Supreme Court Shelby County vs. Holder decision that rolled back section five of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requiring states to receive Justice Department “pre-clearance” before initiating changes to voting laws that may impact minority voters.

Julie Oliver commented that, if elected, she would push Congress to again require Texas to obtain pre-clearance before instituting any electoral changes.

 

Image credit: egbertowillies.com

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to Op-Ed News, Liberal Nation Rising, and Zoedune.