Disabled voters worry about getting screwed by SB7

It won’t be called SB7 in the special session on voter suppression, but you know what I mean.

Texas Republicans have pursued broad efforts this year to ratchet up voting restrictions in the aftermath of a high-turnout election that saw high-profile fights over the state’s voting rules, including the tight eligibility requirements for absentee voting. The 2020 election marked a shift from what was traditionally a tool utilized by the GOP to one that was instead taken up by more Democratic voters. But as the GOP has worked to clamp down on what remains a limited voting option, voters with disabilities — who are among the few groups of Texans eligible to vote by mail — have been caught in the middle of the fight.

Republicans have cast their proposals as “election integrity” measures to protect the voting process from fraud, even though there is no evidence it occurs on a widespread basis. But throughout the spring legislative session, nearly every version of the GOP’s priority voting legislation raised alarms for disability rights advocates who warned lawmakers they would likely run afoul of federal protections for disabled voters.

Texas offers two avenues to voting most helpful for people with disabilities. If they’re unable to vote in person without needing assistance or injuring their health, they can request a mail-in ballot. If they want to vote in person but need assistance, they can ask someone to accompany them to a polling place to help them through the voting process.

Under Republican proposals that are expected to be reconsidered this month, both of those paths might be further constricted.

In the Senate, Republicans wanted to require proof of a condition or illness, including written documentation from the Social Security Administration or a doctor’s note, before disabled voters can receive mail-in ballots for every election in a calendar year. Under current law, voters need only attest that they have a disability that qualifies them for a mail-in ballot.

That proposed change was eventually pulled down, but Republican senators moved forward with a bill that would have increased the likelihood that people with disabilities would be cast as suspect voters if they used other legal accommodations, like having assistance at the polling place.

The GOP bill would have allowed partisan poll watchers to video record voters receiving assistance in filling out their ballots if the poll watchers believed the help was unlawful — a change that disability rights advocates argued would wrongly target people with disabilities. For voters with intellectual or developmental disabilities, for example, voting help may require prompting or questioning that could be misconstrued as coercion by a person unfamiliar with that sort of assistance.

Although voters can select anyone to help them as long as they’re not an employer or union leader, House Republicans attempted to set up new rules for those helping voters, including a requirement to disclose and document the reason the voter needed assistance, even if for medical reasons.

At multiple points during the session, Republicans said they tweaked some of those proposals in response to concerns from disability rights advocates. But when the final version of the legislation emerged from backroom negotiations just before the end of the regular session, it included unwelcome changes to redefine what constitutes a disability under state election law, as well as new identification requirements for voting by mail that advocates said lacked clarity.

“Our voices weren’t being heard at the very end when it was the most important,” said Chase Bearden, the deputy executive director for the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities.

The story opens with an account of one woman who felt the need to cast her mail ballot in person, and the ordeal she endured to do so. It’s worth reading, and reflecting on how much easier it is for some people to vote than it is for others. What happens with the provisions that the disability rights community objected to and had some success stopping in the regular session now that we’re in overtime is unknown. I think the Republicans may at least listen and try to make some accommodations, but if it comes down to them or their base, it’s no contest. At that point it will be a matter of whether litigation over equal access for folks with disabilities will have any better luck in the courts than litigation over claims of racial discrimination. I can’t say I’m optimistic, but we’ll see.

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20 Responses to Disabled voters worry about getting screwed by SB7

  1. Manny says:

    They should put the same restriction on the over 65. If the Republicans target disabled people, they probably have studies that disabled people tend to vote in a higher percentage for Democratic candidates.

  2. Hal says:

    Psychologists please respond:

    The governor, who is himself disabled, is not known as an advocate for disabled people and, for example, supports laws that can make it more difficult for disabled people to vote. Is this projection on Abbott’s part?

    Abbott became disabled when a tree limb fell on him. He filed suit and collected a large lifelong settlement. Then later, as attorney general, he supported changes to personal injury law that make it more difficult for others to collect settlements.

  3. mollusk says:

    Hal, Abbott has dedicated every nanosecond of his career as a lawyer, district court judge, Supreme Court justice, AG, and governor to pulling that ladder up behind him.

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    “The story opens with an account of one woman who felt the need to cast her mail ballot in person, and the ordeal she endured to do so.”

    The strange thing about this is, Nancy could have just scheduled a ride with Metrolift, and could have been ferried from her door to the door of the polling place, all for free. No bus transfers, none of the other ordeal she describes.

    You would think that a retired transit employee, especially one in a wheelchair, would be aware of the Metrolift service.


    “METROLift provides origin-to-destination service. All customers may request assistance at the time of scheduling their trip or on the day of service by calling METROLift dispatch at 713-225-0410 or by asking the driver at the time of pick-up or drop-off. Assistance beyond the curb will be provided at both the pick-up and drop-off as requested or as required due to unforeseen circumstances.”

    So, Nancy, why this heart wrenching tale of struggle and sacrifice? It’s almost like she has a political agenda and is gaslighting people.

    The other inconvenient thing this shows is, a disabled old White lady can get to the polling place and vote….why is it able bodied blacks and Mexicans cannot do that, and are only able to vote at night using drive through voting?

  5. Bill Daniels says:

    Nancy could also just have simply dropped her mail in ballot in her mailbox, just the same way she received it, and let the postal service do all the work. But what kind of story of struggle and sacrifice would that have made? Doubtful the Texas Tribune would have written a story, replete with pictures of brave Nancy, at her mailbox, valiantly struggling to raise the red flag so her mailman knew that she had outgoing mail.

    If Nancy had the level of trust in the Post Office that they would get a ballot to her, it’s incongruent for her to not trust that they could return the ballot.

  6. Manny says:

    One common thread among blood-lusting democracy haters like Bill Daniels, they lie, lie, and lie some more.

    Read the story Bill and if you need help comprehending ask people to explain it to you.

    Why did she take the ballot in, Bill? It is in the story.

  7. Bill Daniels says:

    She took the ballot in because she procrastinated and then worried whether the Post Office would be able to get it back in time. That’s on her, not on the Post Office.

    When you mail a credit card, mortgage, or utility payment, you allow mailing and processing time, so you mail it early. Nancy failed at that. Whose fault is that, Manny? Mine? Yours? No, it’s Nancy’s fault. But OK, a decision was made that she wanted to drop off her ballot in person (proving that she didn’t actually NEED the mail in ballot to begin with).

    Care to take a stab at why Nancy didn’t utilize the Metrolift door to door service? Any thoughts on that, Manny? Have I posted false information about Metrolift?

  8. mollusk says:

    Why did she not take Metrolift? Living in Austin might have something to do with it. Capital Metro’s analogous service does not go everywhere.

  9. Bill Daniels says:


    Good catch, I overlooked that she was in Austin. Thankfully Austin has the exact same type of program for the disabled that Houston has:


    My apologies…..she should have called MetroAccess, for a door to door ride, not Metrolift.

  10. Política comparada says:


    Bill, your complaint seems to be with conventions in American journalism.

    In journalistic writing, it is typical to cover an issue that’s on the social/political agenda by focusing on one (or several) affected persons because that’s how readers can best relate. And it’s a way to humanize what might otherwise be an abstract or otherwise elusive concept (like “election integrity” or “grid reliability” or “toxicity” or “threat level” and even “safety”). The empathy on the part of the reader with those who suffer is assumed, although the “tales of woe” thus related may not resonate with asocial characters and psychopaths (as long as they are not themselves affected by the same calamity.)

    The latter category of contemporaries is probably not among the intended readership in any event. The general audience will expect journalists to bring issues home to them in terms of the effect they have on real people. And the Texas Tribune actively recruits people to share their experiences on specified subjects, as do other news outfits. Just saw one such solicitation for people who moved from California to Austin. That approach to develop “stories” obviously involves self-selection, but there is nothing wrong with that for journalistic purposes. Random sampling is for the pollsters and the pros in empirical social research. And the reason for random sampling for them is to assure the ability to describe the population as a whole, i.e. public opinion, or to gauge the distribution of partisan and policy preferences among registered voters more specifically.


    In a scholarly article in the social science disciplines, by contrast, you would have an “abstract” to sum up the gist of the insights gained from the exploration of the topic, which would typically be based on an analysis of *data* (plural) describing the views or experiences or behavior of *many* people, not just one.

    The problem with limiting an inquiry to one unit (“case study”, in academic lingo) is that such research doesn’t lend itself to generalization because there is no basis to determine what about the singular experience is typical, and what is not, or how prevalent something is.

    Nor can you explore cause and effect relationships where N=1 (N standing for the number of units, whether persons (such as voters) or instances of a phenomenon (e.g., out-of-precinct ballots as in the recent SCOTUS election law case, or drive-thru voting on voting machines last year in Harris County).

    That said, even a case study has its place in a systematic inquiry, especially in the initial phases, because it provides ideas about what to look for in more rigorous research of broader scope. Here, for example, the question of whether wheel-chair-bound or otherwise disabled voters have an on-demand Metro-Lift system (or equivalent) in their city or county that will pick them up from their home and take them to their polling place. Or whether folks on an Indian reservation even have mail delivery, as in the recent SCOTX decision involving impediments to voting in Arizona. https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/20pdf/19-1257_g204.pdf


    In litigation, of course, there *must* at least be one person (or organization) that is personally affected – adversely affected — to meet the threshold requirement of legal standing. So, unlike social scientific research, litigation is inherently case-based and case-focused, and is more akin to the journalistic approach, in that sense. Even if litigation is sponsored by an advocacy group, you generally need your “Nancy” as a lead plaintiff, and you need to have a compelling story of woe. A complaintif about unfair treatment or other legal harm, and someone responsible to blame for it.

    That does not mean, of course, that social scientific evidence regarding the effects of voting rules doesn’t have a role to play in the evaluation of claims alleging discriminatory effects.


    If Nancy’s tale of woe is not persuasive under her particular circumstances as they have been related, she wouldn’t have a viable legal case, and would and should lose if she brought it to court. But it would not be legit to pass judgment on the wisdom of the (proposed) policies at issue based on just a singular case. Nor would conformity with extant federal law be the only relevant criterion for evaluating the merits of contemplated changes in election rules as the exist now.

    And that’s the core issue at this stage of the game: What are the merits of making voting more difficult for the disabled? Not as a legal question for courts, but as a policy question before the people’s representatives?

  11. Manny says:

    If the person is not already enrolled in MetroAccess, they must;

    “Only those people whose disabilities, in combination with their functional abilities, prevent them from using fixed-route services are eligible for MetroAccess. The eligibility process includes an application, professional medical verification and an interview and orientation by staff for new and existing customers.”

    Bill, you are a sorry excuse for a human, but a typical Republican/Racist.

  12. Ross says:

    Bill, as you may recall, or not, the incompetent piece of shit Postmaster appointed by the incompetent piece of shit Donald Trump, was doing his best to slow down the mail. my Mom sent her mail ballot in on the first possible day, just in case the mail was slow, and it took over a week to get from Katy to the County. In addition, many locations had, and still have, issues with mail being stolen from mail boxes.

    Government should be making it easier to vote, not harder, at least in terms of casting a ballot if you re a registered voter.

  13. Bill Daniels says:


    Here’s where your argument is confusing: The left is promoting MORE mail in voting. Y’all are promoting a mail in ballot free-for-all. Haven’t you proudly pointed out that a couple of states only vote by mail?

    So pick one narrative:

    ~ mail in balloting is safe and didn’t and won’t lead to massive voter fraud or disenfranchisement, ergo Nancy could have done what your own sainted mother did….no muss, no fuss

    ~mail in balloting is not safe because Louis DeJoy will pay gangs of roving young Republicans to steal your ballots, and probably your souls, in the middle of the night

    Government should not make it easier to commit vote fraud, or make it easier to disenfranchise people. Having your ballot stolen from the mailbox disenfranchises you. If you have a concern about this, then you should join me in support voting in person for everyone who can.

    Disabled, elderly Nancy admits she usually votes in person with no problems during normal voting hours, (not by drive through, not in the middle of the night, by the way), but chose not to last year out of an irrational fear of the Wu flu. Then, inexplicably, she chose to throw that fear out the window and expose herself to the maximum amount of potential infected by taking 3 hours worth of various buses to drop off her mail in ballot, vs. taking a free MetroAccess bus for the trip, or taking a free and much shorter MetroAccess bus trip to her actual polling place to hand over her mail in ballot for destruction and vote in person instead.



    If you received a mail-in ballot but want to vote in person during early voting or on Election Day, you need to bring your mail-in ballot with you to the polls so it can be surrendered to an on-site election administrator, the office of the Texas Secretary of State told HuffPost.

  14. Manny says:

    Only idiots and racists a la Bill Daniels claim to be confused. There is no confusion among most Democrats, the Republicans/Racist just like to whine about everything.

  15. voter_worker says:

    The case of Hervis Rogers may be a foreshadowing of how the State may proceed with non-residence voting addresses. It’s a vastly more fertile field than the occasional felon gaining registration before being eligible.

  16. Ross says:

    Damn, Hervis Rogers is being held in Montgomery County with bail set at $100,000. That’s completely and utterly outrageous. I really wish there was a way to charge Paxton with some felony and set his bail at $300 million, since he is a far bigger danger to the community than anyone charged with illegal voting. Paxton is one worthless human being.

  17. Bill Daniels says:


    Two thoughts:

    First, why is it that the biggest heroes of the left are scumbag criminals? Do you know WHY hero-we-don’t-deserve Hervis is a two-time felon? He hurt people. He hurt people, got a gift from the people of Texas in the form of being released early from prison on parole, and then he violated the (misplaced) trust of the people of Texas by illegally voting. There’s a reason we don’t let felon parolees vote…..they don’t make good decisions. And can we speculate about who bad decision Hervis voted for? Bet I can guess.

    Second, it sucks when the other side wields law enforcement and prosecution against you, doesn’t it? Sorry, Kim Ogg has no power in Montgomery County; she can’t drop charges against Hervis like she did for the blm rioters.

    Now you feel the pain of the right, who at this moment, have political prisoners languishing in no bail solitary confinement in D.C. for the horrific crime of petitioning their government for the redress of grievances, a natural, God given right that coincidentally, is also enshrined in our Constitution. So now we’ve taken one of your people hostage. How about them apples? I hope he’s in solitary, too.

  18. Ross says:

    Bill, what the fuck do the people arrested in DC have to do with this case? Quit peddling your inane what-aboutisms, and focus.

    Rogers is charged with illegal voting. $100,000 is outrageous bail for charges that don’t involve acts of violence. That bail is blatantly unconstitutional on its face.

    Here’s an article that’s reasonably unbiased, although I am sure you think the Guardian is a commie pinko rag. It’s not, and their journalism has been top notch over the years. There are a lot of links in the article, including one to Roger’s parole agreement, which doesn’t warn him about not voting https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jul/09/texas-voter-arrested-hervis-rogers-ken-paxton

    I haven’t found the case in the Montgomery County records, but wonder why he’s charged there if he has no connection to the case.

  19. Kibitzer Curiae says:

    Re: “wonder why he’s charged there if he has no connection to the case”

    It’s called forum shopping, and apparently it’s legal. See TEX. ELEC. CODE § 273.024.

    House Member Ron Reynolds (D), Missouri City, Texas 77489, was also charged, prosecuted, tried, and convicted there, on flimsy venue facts (under the barratry statute) because Harris County wasn’t friendly enough for the prosecution.


    Sec. 273.024. VENUE. An offense under this subchapter may be prosecuted in the county in which the offense was committed or an adjoining county. If the offense is committed in connection with a statewide election, the offense may be prosecuted in the county in which the offense was committed, an adjoining county, or Travis County.

  20. Manny says:

    Bill is pushing hate of Democrats in any way possible, and the thing is that way too many people, mostly Republicans are too stupid to realize that there is no connection. They just want to justify their hate by any means.

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