Texas is the next major battleground in the Republican war on voting rights: report

Texas is the next major battleground in the Republican war on voting rights: report

Georgia has been Ground Zero for GOP voter suppression, with Gov. Brian Kemp having recently signed into law a harsh voter suppression bill that Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola and other major Georgia-based businesses have spoke out against. But voter suppression bills are being introduced by Republicans in state legislatures all over the U.S., and journalist Alexandra Villarreal — in an article published by The Guardian on April 21 — points to Texas as the next major battleground in the Republican war on voting rights.

"Texas Republicans are at the vanguard of a national push to curtail voting rights, with lawmakers targeting the voters and policies that helped Democrats make inroads in the 2020 election," Villarreal explains. "Texas legislators have introduced 49 bills restricting voting access — far more than any other state — even as major Texas-based corporations such as American Airlines express fervent opposition."

It isn't hard to understand why Texas Republicans are worried about the inroads that Democrats have been making in the Lone Star State, which is still a red state but is light red compared to deep red GOP bastions like Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Mississippi. President Joe Biden lost Texas to former President Donald Trump by 6% in 2020, and Democratic former Rep. Beto O'Rourke lost to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz by only 2% in Texas' 2018 U.S. Senate race. Those single-digit losses in major statewide races show that while Democrats have an uphill battle in Texas, it isn't insurmountable — which is why voter suppression is such a high priority for Lone Star Republicans.

Villarreal explains that GOP proposals go beyond voter suppression in Texas — some of them are encouraging outright voter intimidation.

"The sweeping provisions could deal an outsized blow to low-income residents, people with disabilities, city dwellers and Texans of color, many of whom belong to diverse, youthful cohorts whose political views spell trouble for the GOP," Villarreal observes. "And, in a twist that differentiates Texas from other states such as Georgia and Arizona that have instituted or are planning voting restrictions, some of the proposals impose extreme penalties on people who make even innocuous missteps."

Sarah Labowitz, policy and advocacy director for the Texas American Civil Liberties Union, told The Guardian, "When you make making a mistake on a voter registration application a second-degree felony, that's the equivalent of arson and aggravated kidnapping."

Democrats are a majority party in large urban centers like Houston, Dallas, Austin and El Paso, but Republicans still enjoy a major advantage in numerous rural counties in the Lone Star State. Nonetheless, Republicans obviously fear that changing Texas demographics will doom them eventually, especially if Democrats can increase voter turnout in Harris County, Travis County and other Democrat-leaning places.

Claudia Yoli Ferla, executive director of civic engagement for the group Move Texas, told The Guardian, "These legislators are seeing the writing on the wall, and they're scared of the power of young people. They're scared to have the true voices of our communities reflected."

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