April 25, 2021
The Texas Highway Department is changing all of the signs on state highways. They used to say, “Don’t Mess with Texas”, appealing to drivers not to litter. The new signs are going to say, “Texas is a Mess!” in order to let people know about the Republican-led legislative attack on the ability of Texans to access the ballot. Ok, only half of that is true. The signs aren’t really changing, but the legislature is absolutely trying to keep people from voting. Not everyone, it seems, mainly people who live in the cities, rather than the vast Texas-sized countryside.
Among the restrictions in two omnibus bills in the Texas Legislature are a ban on 24-hour voting, a ban on drive-through voting and harsh criminal penalties for local election officials who provide assistance to voters. There are also new limits on voting machine distribution that could lead to a reduction in numbers of precincts and a ban on encouraging absentee voting. The bills also include a measure that would make it much more difficult to remove hyper-partisan poll watchers for improper conduct.
This is not a question of fixing something that was broken, but of breaking something that was fixed. Harris County, where Houston is located, responded to the pandemic by doing almost everything they could think of in order to make it easier for citizens to vote. Big surprise, it worked! Some of the new wrinkles added as many as 10,000 voters to totals. More people voting in a democracy? Whoa, Nellie, can’t have that, say these legislators. Better stop that kind of success ASAP!
I’m especially intrigued by the brilliance of Harris County opening the polls for a special 24-hour voting spree and recognizing the fact that shift workers should also have the right to access the ballot box.
Reportedly, there were people in line in all manner of uniforms from hospital scrubs to fast food caps and t-shirts as they came off of work or were hurrying to make their stint at work. The number of service and other workers in the current economy who are balancing two and three jobs is huge. 24-hour voting recognizes this reality and gives people a chance to be citizens and not just worker bees in the vast hives of our economy.
The Texas legislature seems more than willing to lie in the road to do anything they can to stop increased access for voters, especially 24-hour workers in the 24-hour economy. Some of their proposals deliberately only applied to areas with populations of over one-million, so think Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. Their evilness shouldn’t stop other states from grabbing a good idea and implementing special 24-hour voting periods in their states.
Houston, we have liftoff, America, get on board!