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The march for voting rights

Good work, but it can’t be the end.

Saturday marked the third time in as many months that former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke has headlined a voting rights rally at the Texas Capitol, as Democrats hope to keep momentum with just a week left before the end of the special session in Austin.

The rally, which drew several thousand attendees, marked the end of a Selma-style march to the state Capitol — a roughly 27-mile journey from Georgetown to Austin that activists split over four days. It was organized by the Poor People’s Campaign, a group inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.

As demonstrators finished the last leg of their march, they greeted a crowd in front of the Capitol holding signs: “Texas deserves better,” “It’s about us,” “We care, we vote.” They sang along with the performers on the center stage as they belted out the labor movement anthem, “We Shall Not Be Moved.”

“The right time to do right is right now,” the Rev. William J. Barber II, a national civil rights leader who spearheaded the march, repeated throughout the rally.

It culminated with a live performance by Willie Nelson, who sang the classics “Whiskey River” and “Good Hearted Woman.” His set ended with a newer song, “Vote ‘Em Out,” which opens with the line: “If you don’t like who’s in there, vote ‘em out; that’s what Election Day is all about.”

The marchers have demands ranging from a $15 minimum wage to immigration reform, but their most pressing concern is new voting restrictions that have been proposed or passed in GOP-led states. Texas, which already has some of the nation’s strictest laws on voter registration and mail ballots, is among them.

Lots of positive energy came out of this, and I hope it helps to sustain us through the next few weeks, which are going to be tough. But really, what I want to see next are headlines that say things like “Senate Democrats agree to pass voting rights bill that includes redistricting reform and new preclearance requirements”, and “Beto O’Rourke announces his entry into the Texas Governor’s race”. I’m not asking for much here.

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19 Comments

  1. Adoile Turner III says:

    i don’t understand for the life of me why theyre equating this for my people’s march for equal rights. everyone i know black or white has an ID so i don’t understand who this bill infringes upon.

  2. policywonqueria says:

    Mr Turner:

    Three comments that are hopefully helpful:

    (1) The package of proposed “reforms” isn’t just about voter ID, which is already the law in Texas.
    (2) Just because you don’t know anyone without ID doesn’t mean that no such voters exist.
    (3) Just because a restrictive measure doesn’t make it physically impossible to vote (disfranchisement) and may not be unconstitutional doesn’t make rules that make it more difficult to vote a good thing.

    Mobility-impaired citizens and others who have difficulty getting to polling places during normal hours should also be able to participate in choosing those enact the laws and make decisions that we are all bound by.

    That said, the number of affected voters – and thus the effect on turnout — is probably low, but that could make the difference between a candidate winning or losing in a close race, if the impact on voter participation has a partisan skew.

    So, even if the impact of new restrictive voting laws pushed by the Republicans is marginal overall – by affecting say 2 or 3% of eligible voters – it can nevertheless change the outcome of specific races. Not in gerrymandered minority-majority “pack-em” districts, such as Senfronia Thompson’s or Sheila Jackson Lee’s, but in districts that are competitive, e.g., certain counties or appellate districts.

    And ultimately, such restrictions could also affect the outcome in statewide races, once the margins between GOP and Democrats narrow even more due to ongoing demographic change. 

  3. C.L. says:

    Ignorance is a dangerous thing, Adoile.

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    This comment chain perfectly encapsulates the D position. Oh, you poor, put upon Ms. Turner, you don’t even understand how your people are being kept down, but don’t worry, sainted White liberals will take up your burden and fight FOR you, because you’re just too slow to really understand, and obviously cannot fight for yourself.

    Wolf,

    There are, and were, two special set asides for legitimately disabled people to vote…..somebody legitimately impaired has had the right to both vote by mail, and the right to “car service” voting, like you’d order a meal at Sonic. For the legitimately impaired, and not just the lazy, these options have been available for quite a while.

    Next, we have to question exactly who it is that is unable to vote for the 2+weeks of early voting, including a Saturday and, in Houston apparently, a Sunday for the 12-14 hours of early voting, from 7 am to either 7 or 9 pm. Vampires? Are the majority of blacks vampires? Are blacks over-represented in the vampire-American community? Remember, not permitting 24 hour, drive through voting is specifically voter suppression against black people. That’s how it’s being sold. That’s WHY it is Jim Crow 2.0! Here we have an actual black person, a rarity here, telling you that, if I can read between the lines, she doesn’t know any lazy black vampires. But no worry, here you guys are, fighting for the right of these mythical black vampires anyway.

    And then there’s the totally off the wall discussion of $ 15 minimum wage. How does that fit? The only folks hiring for people who can, but do not wish to get out of their cars, are taxi drivers and Uber. Correct me if I’m wrong here.

  5. Bill Daniels says:

    Regarding the voter ID law, here’s the official site, and there are some carve outs, including the FREE election certificates the DPS issues. I believe there were about 300 of those actually issued the first year they were available, showing a huge number of Texans don’t have ID.

    https://www.votetexas.gov/mobile/id-faqs.htm

  6. policywonqueria says:

    SHOULD AG PAXTON BE INVESTIGATING MEDICAL CONDITIONS ?

    Re: “There are, and were, two special set asides for legitimately disabled people to vote…..somebody legitimately impaired has had the right to both vote by mail, and the right to “car service” voting.”

    Mobility impared and disabled voters in Texas enjoy special accommodations thanks to what law? — Federal law. ADA, if memory serves right. And one of the two referenced Election Code provisions is colloquially called “curbside voting” rather than “car service” voting. The word curb appears in the statutes:

    Tex. Elec. Code Sec. 64.009. VOTER UNABLE TO ENTER POLLING PLACE. (a) If a voter is physically unable to enter the polling place without personal assistance or likelihood of injuring the voter’s health, on the voter’s request, an election officer shall deliver a ballot to the voter at the polling place entrance or curb.

    (b) The regular voting procedures may be modified by the election officer to the extent necessary to conduct voting under this section.

    (c) After the voter is accepted for voting, the voter shall mark the ballot and give it to the election officer who shall deposit it in the ballot box.

    (d) On the voter’s request, a person accompanying the voter shall be permitted to select the voter’s ballot and deposit the ballot in the ballot box.

    As to “legitimate” disability, who is pushing for a tighenting of the definition and for the AG being able to investigate voters’ medical condition, second-guessing medical excuses in applications for mail ballots, and requiring substantiation of medical excuses? Was that not Republicans?

    Finally, to equate discendants of slaves and other African-origin Americans with vampires is beyond the pale and does not merit any further response.

    Nor is it known whether Adoile Turner III is black, or to what extent we are at policywonqueria, for that matter.

  7. Ross says:

    Bill, why are you opposed to making voting easier for everyone?

  8. C.L. says:

    Voting locations should be open 24/7 for two-three-four weeks* prior to the election date, any/all folks should be allowed to vote by mail or from their car (at the polling location), anyone/everyone should be able to vote by mail, etc.

    *if you case a ballot three weeks before some revelatory ‘breaking news’ about your preferred candidate, oh well.

    Just silly business, implementing any restrictions to voting. Everyone eligible voter should be able to vote by any means necessary and available.

  9. C.L. says:

    **cast a ballot**

  10. Adoile Turner III says:

    @Bill Daniels thankyou for breaking it down for my feeble minded black ID less self. i couldn’t for the life of me understand how brutal jim crow racial segregation was equivalent to blacks not being awake during the daytime 2-3 weeks before election day and not having a single for lm of identification. but now it’s blatantly obvious.

  11. Jason Hochman says:

    I believe that you should have to have your vaccination papers in addition to ID in order to even register to vote, and then, in order to vote, you need vaccination papers, two forms of ID, and proof of citizenship in order to vote.

    Why do you want to make voting easy for people without the intellectual ability to get an ID or hire an accountant? Look what that has wrought. I went to the taco stand and prices had gone up since the last week. Prices are flying through the roof. You have convinced the not so smart to vote against their own self interest and forcing themselves to remain in poverty. Why do you want to punish regular working people and families? Please stop. I can’t believe how much better my life was when Trump was in office, as much as I hate to admit that.

    “Free election of masters doesn’t abolish the masters or the slaves.”
    -Herbert Marcuse

  12. Adoile Turner III says:

    @policywonquiera i get all that your saying but WHO does this disenfranchise is what i’m asking. yes these voting laws are a little more restrictive than last years free for all but it still isn’t showing me how it makes it more difficult for specific people to vote. i’m a black man and am all for these new laws, it makes it easy to vote but hard to cheat or be fraudulent ballot casting.

  13. Bill Daniels says:

    I just want to follow up with an apology for misgendering Mr. Turner. No slight intended or implied, sir.

  14. Manny says:

    Poor racists, poor fascists, no where else to promote their lies and hate. Whiney pitiful people.

  15. policywonqueria says:

    Mr Turner:

    You are entitled to your own opinion, of course. Thank you for expressing it. Readers here will be very familiar with the notion that all I care about is me. And: As long as it doesn’t affect me, I don’t give a hoot.

    Alas.

    From a policy evaluation perspective, however, we don’t just look at whether and how _x or y_ affects one person (that person being me/you), but take the big-picture view. And that would include folks not like me/you.

    Measures and rules that make it more difficult to vote — or increase the cost of voting short of making it impossible — depress participation overall (N casting ballot as a % of all eligible voters), and that reduces the quality of democracy, and can skew outcomes. Based on democratic theory (rule by the people), the goal should be to increase participation, not to suppress it.

    Although there has been much talk about high turnout lately, turnout in the US is still low in international comparison, and much worse in non-presidential elections. Even independent of any comparative data – whether for countries or other states – there is much room for improvement.

    Republicans should try to increase their appeal to moderate voters and nonvoters — thus earning their support — rather than trying to reduce the participation of eligible voters who are unlikely to support their extremist positions, or scare them away from the polls.

  16. voter_worker says:

    @policywonqueria, the convenience issues aside, did a bill pass that would tighten enforcement of the requirement that only a residence address is acceptable on a voter registration application? I remember reading about it during the regular session.

  17. policywonqueria says:

    VOTER REGISTRATION “REFORM” … PO BOX VS. PHYSCIAL ADDRESS

    SB 1111 was signed by Gov. Abbott June 16 and is effective Sep. 1, 2021. A legal challenge has already been filed.

    For info, see here:
    https://www.democracydocket.com/2021/06/texas-gov-signs-bill-modifying-residency-requirements/

    This article contains a link to bill text; otherwise go to Texas Legislature website and use Bill Lookup facility for SB 1111 (Default in “Legislature” data field is set to current special session, so use drop-down menu option to select 87R-2021, which is right below)

    Also see “Sometimes Bad Laws Come in Small Packages” on the same website.

    If anyhow has a link to the litigation documents posted outside of PACER, please share it here.

  18. voter_worker says:

    @policywonqueria, thanks! I read the bill and could not find any language distinguishing persons registered as of 31 August 2021 from those who apply from 1 September forward. Could this be used by partisan activists to challenge pre Sept 1 registrations? Will it allow VRs to take the initiative to examine pre Sept 1 registrations, and send confirmations as defined in the bill? This is something that could snowball. Harris County was sued during Paul Bettencourt’s term as Tax A/C-VR to cease rejecting voter registration applications using non-residence addresses, and agreed to refrain from doing that. One interesting clause looks as if it could be used to challenge MUD creation elections, whose voters are typically people registered at a trailer moved onto the development site for that purpose. “b) A person may not establish residence for the purpose of influencing the outcome of a certain election.”

  19. policywonqueria says:

    CRIMINALIZATION OF MISTAKES IN REGISTRATION & VOTING

    Mr. Turner III:

    You and yours may have been wondering, what’s the big deal with the Texas voting bill? Why is it bad?

    This young lady (a political science major from Stanford University with international living and working experience, and a pro in public communications) explains how it goes beyond the depressing effect on turnout and skewing of outcome (which we focused on above):

    It taints our democracy and intimidates voters.

    https://twitter.com/LinaHidalgoTX (see video embedded in 8/5 tweet, 20 hours ago… there are few newer posts since then. The entire URL is too long to copy and paste here).