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Voter, sanitize thyself

WTF?

With voting in the primary runoff election starting next month in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, the Texas secretary of state on Tuesday issued “minimum recommended health protocols” for elections, including a suggestion that voters bring their own hand sanitizer to the polls and that they “may want to consider” voting curbside if they have symptoms of COVID-19.

In an eight-page document, Secretary of State Ruth Hughs laid out checklists for voters and election workers that range from self-screening for symptoms to increased sanitation of voting equipment — none of which are binding and many of which were already being considered by local election officials planning for the first statewide election during the coronavirus pandemic.

In its recommendations, the state said voters should consider wearing cloth face masks, bringing their own marking devices — like pencils with erasers or styluses — and using curbside voting if they have a cough, fever, shortness of breath or other symptoms associated with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Voters in Texas have long had the option of having a ballot brought to them outside their polling place if “a voter is physically unable to enter the polling place without personal assistance or likelihood of injuring the voter’s health.”

The state instructed local election officials to place markings on the floor to facilitate social distancing and to keep at least 6 feet between voting stations. Election officials should also consider having all employees wear masks, the secretary of state said.

The recommendations are meant to serve as a baseline, and county officials can adopt additional protocols. Early voting for the July primary runoff starts June 29.

Man, this is weak. The main takeaway here is that the state of Texas really, really doesn’t want to do anything to make it safer or easier for anyone to vote. Let’s put aside the hotly-contested question about allowing more voting by mail and consider two fairly simple alternatives the state could do in this regard. One, the state could pay for the extra supplies that voters or county officials if they are willing and able are being encouraged to provide for themselves. A few million bucks from Greg Abbott’s discretionary fund would go a long way towards buying hand sanitizer, pencils, masks and gloves for poll workers, and so forth, not just for the July election but for November as well. Additionally, and speaking of November, Abbott could use his emergency powers – or call a special session if this would be too legally questionable – to extend the early voting period for November to four weeks. That would do a lot to address concerns about long lines and crowds of people crammed inside polling places waiting their turn. He extended the early voting period for July to address this, which I do appreciate. But no, we get this limp mixture of “you might wanna bring some Purell with you, and oh yeah, mark some spots on the floor”. Are you kidding me?

Republican voters should be unhappy about this inability to engage with the actual issue, too. This isn’t hard. And surely I’m not the only one looking at that recommendation to voters that they spend their own money to provide their own risk mitigation and thinking that telling voters there’s a cost to voting they have to pay amounts to a poll tax. If there isn’t a lawsuit filed over this, I’ll be quite surprised. I don’t know what it’s going to take to get the state to take this seriously.

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17 Comments

  1. brad says:

    “Voters in Texas have long had the option of having a ballot brought to them outside their polling place if “a voter is physically unable to enter the polling place without personal assistance or likelihood of injuring the voter’s health.”

    So I can’t get a mail-in ballot due to a disability of valid concern on exposure to Covid, but I can do curbside voting because of the likelihood of injuring my health on exposure to Covid.

    Hmm…intriguing. I wonder what the curbside voting logistics are here in Harris County with the use of electronic voting machines. Remote tablet brought out?, Paper ballot?

    So how would Ken Paxton validly say that “likelihood” doesn’t equal the definition of a chance or a probability?

  2. Wolfgang says:

    AND THUSLY, IT CAME TO PASS THAT THE PREFECT OF THE POLLS WISHY-WASHED HER HANDS OF THE MATTER LIKE PONTIUS PILATUS

    Boiled down to its gist from 8 wasted pages, the SOS missive goes like this:

    Everyone should rigorously follow these suggestions as to what voters may consider wanting to do consistent with the actions taken by many individuals and businesses across the state, such as wearing non-medical grade face masks, if available.

    DUH — Talk about rigor for the benefit of rigorous guidance recipients! – And then we have that reference to some “cough etiquette” without even as much as a footnote to a Miss Manners or Ann Lander’s column of yesteryear (not to mention guidance from the CDC), a plea the “support economic revitalization”, and homage being paid to a “safe and measured reopening” as if balloting were buying-and-selling activity.

    Luckily, you-all, there is a statutory right to VOTE BY MAIL BASED ON DISABILITY as defined by the Texas Election Code, not to mention JUDGE SULAK’S FINDINGS regarding COVID-19 and disability under the Texas Election Code—handed down after an evidentiary hearing–which the higher court has not (yet) overturned. If the judicial “Ministry of Truth” will un-find these findings, it will be on them.

    And while we are on the topic of supreme court review and statutory (de)construction …. In the related mandamus proceeding—from which the Plaintiffs in Sulak’s case were strategically shut out as parties–the Solicitor General has since taken the position that the medical experts (who submitted amicus briefs) should be ignored, and that the Supremes should throw the dictionaries at them (slightly paraphrased for dramatic effect).

    For “Ministry of Truth” and “Newspeak”, see George Orwell’s 1984.

  3. Wolfgang says:

    JUST IN Thus speaketh the Supreme Court …

    In short: Denies the baseless mandamus against the election clerks/administrators (whose role is to issue a mail-in-ballot when the application is complete, period), but uses the occasion to decide the “real” issue.

    THE SUPREME COURT OF TEXAS
    Orders Pronounced May 27, 2020

    ORDERS ON CAUSES

    20-0394 IN RE STATE OF TEXAS

    The Court denies the petition for writ of mandamus.
    Chief Justice Hecht delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Justice Green,
    Justice Guzman, Justice Lehrmann, Justice Devine, Justice Blacklock,
    and Justice Busby joined.
    Justice Guzman delivered a concurring opinion, in which Justice Lehrmann
    and Justice Busby joined.
    Justice Boyd delivered a concurring opinion.
    Justice Bland delivered a concurring opinion.

  4. Charly Hoarse says:

    We have the technology: supermarkets here have managed to install sanitizer stations.

  5. Brad says:

    F student in science,

    Hand sanitizer doesn’t prevent bioaerosol by people.

  6. Brad says:

    Lobo,

    Supreme Court also said voters can decide for themselves if they meet disability definition.

  7. Wolfgang says:

    ¡Así es!, al fin, mucho nothingburger

  8. Bill Daniels says:

    I still haven’t heard one valid argument why we couldn’t just set up the voting booths in HEB or Walmart, both well known safe areas, where nothing bad happens and no one can get sick. All these hypochondriac Texans seem to be able to shop safely at big box stores, so there you go; there’s the answer. Simply prevent polling places being set up at extremely dangerous locations like churches, barber shops, small businesses, etc., and the safety issue is solved.

    And for those afraid to enter HEB, just put the curbside voting machines in the same spot where the grocery carryout service is conducted. No one is afraid at HEB or Walmart.

  9. Jules says:

    Can we all please go back to ignoring Bill?

    All of his posts simply boil down to YOU HATE PUPPIES AND KITTEHS!!!!11!

  10. Manny says:

    Over 100,000 dead because of the idiot that sits in the White House, we can thank people like Bill who support the village idiot.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-apps/imrs.php?src=https://arc-anglerfish-washpost-prod-washpost.s3.amazonaws.com/public/H4WQBLD3MVDEVBOADIIG4AHUAE.JPG&w=916

  11. brad says:

    Bill,

    Its because you’ve been listening to Fox News. Numbskull.

  12. C.L. says:

    I still haven’t heard one valid argument why we couldn’t just set up the voting booths in Bill Daniels’ house, where nothing bad happens and no one can get sick.

    All these hypochondriac Texans seem to be able to shop safely at big box stores, so there you go; there’s the answer. Simply prevent polling places being set up at extremely dangerous locations like churches, barber shops, small businesses, etc., and the safety issue is solved.

    And for those afraid to enter Bill’s house, just put the curbside voting machines in the same spot where the diatribe is dispensed. No one is afraid at Bill’s house.

  13. Wolfgang says:

    ALT DEUS EX MACHINA:

    The Supremes have already pronounced government agents and attorneys immune. Why shouldn’t the voters be next in line to receive such jurisprudential largesse?

    BTW: Thanks for the satire, C.L. … I am taking a liking to the genre, not to mention the curbside diatribe-cum-viral-load dispensers.

  14. Bill Daniels says:

    Hey, I cordially invite all OTK’ers to come vote at my house. Free beer! I could probably serve up some mixed drinks, too….no Zima, cosmopolitans, or white wine spritzers though, sorry C.L. And just for Manny, I’ll make all the white Russians he wants!

    And yes, it’s safe; we’re all virus free out here in redneckville! Y’all come on!

  15. Wolfgang says:

    Merci beaucoup for the cordial invite to rednecksville. Are cosmopolitan polyglutterans eligible to attend wet whistle fest? How ’bout red Russians?

    Any red herrings dangling curbside or in the booth?

    OTK? – Qu’est-ce que c’est?

  16. Bill Daniels says:

    OTK’ers = Off The Kuff posters, AKA….the peanut gallery.

    Wolfgang, yes, y’all just drag on over here and show up. I’ll save you a spot in the driveway, so you don’t have to [shudder] park on the lawn.

  17. […] here for the background. I had called on Abbott to do exactly this, though I did not expect that he would. He hasn’t said yet how much he’ll extend early […]