Greg Abbott’s most recent choice for Texas Secretary of State, David Whitley, put out a list of 95,000 Texas voters which it claimed were not U.S. citizens. Upon even slight investigation, the phony list – obviously intended to pump up Abbott’s Tea Party bona fides – began to quickly fall apart. In announcing the list, Whitley and indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton claimed that the list was put out as part of a fight against fraudulent voting. Individual 1 a/k/a Trumph – the Insult Comic President and other denizens of the far right have insisted that illegal voting and voter fraud are serious problems despite the lack of any real evidence of in-person voter fraud and the Texas GOP is obviously eager to back him up.
It turns out that many names on the list were of people who registered when getting a Texas Driver’s License – a process that requires applicants to establish their citizenship – or registered at a naturalization ceremony – which should need no explanation, that is to anyone other than Our Poor Idiot Governor. When that was revealed, the list quickly started falling apart. In Harris County, almost 60% of the names on a 30,000 voter list were almost immediately removed. Odds are that the vast majority of the remaining names will turn up nothing as well.
To their credit, most of the local county tax-assessor collectors (still in charge of registering voters as a legacy of the Jim Crow era poll taxes) have tread very carefully and seem intent on protecting the rights of Texas voters – unlike OPIG and his flunkies.
So OPIG has spent a lot of taxpayer money and effort in a process which might reveal that a handful of Texas voters were not actually authorized to vote. If the Texas GOP clearly stands for one thing – it stands for voter suppression.
From the Annals of Democracy – In 1919, the Texas Senate ratified the 19th Amendment which granted women the right to vote. The amendment had been sent to the states for ratification earlier in June. On June 23, the Texas House had ratified the amendment on June 23. Texas women had already achieved the right to vote in primaries in 1918 which was tantamount to voting in the general election in most parts of the state. Texas was the first Southern state to ratify the amendment and the ninth overall. Woman suffrage had been considered in Texas as early as the Constitutional Convention of 1868. After years of near dormancy, the Texas Equal Suffrage Association, a state chapter of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, led the fight for suffrage beginning in 1913.
Amazingly, Red knows several Neanderthals who still think women shouldn’t be voting. You can probably guess who they voted for in 2016.
In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge by two Texas citizens that would have upended the doctrine of One Man, One Vote. The case, Evenwel v. Abbott, was masterminded by highly successful Supreme Court lawyer Ed Blum and his erroneously named Project for Fair Representation. Blum and the plaintiffs claimed that Texas State Senate districts were unconstitutional because they were drawn on the basis of total population instead of the number of eligible voters. The argument was a clever ploy to redirect political power from more liberal urban areas to more conservative rural areas who have higher numbers of eligible voters as a percentage of total population. Although the U.S. Constitution mandates that congressional districts be drawn on the basis of population, there is no such mandate for state legislative districts. Alas, the ploy failed and the Court held that Texas could legally apportion its legislative districts on the basis of total population.
Adopting voter-eligible apportionment as constitutional command would upset a well-functioning approach to districting that all 50 States and countless local jurisdictions have followed for decades, even centuries . . . Appellants have shown no reason for the Court to disturb this longstanding use of total population.
Unfortunately, the Court left open the question of whether a state could use some other basis to draw its districts. Expect another run at this naked attempt for the Republicans to maintain their stranglehold on Texas politics. Right now, the population difference between the largest and smallest districts in Texas is about 8 percent. If the State were to change and instead use the number of eligible voters in each district for apportionment, there would be about a 40 percent difference between the largest and the smallest districts. That would be a remarkable shift of power back to more conservative rural areas and result in unbelievable redistricting battles.
From the Annals of Discrimination – In 1944, Lawrence Aaron Nixon, black physician and voting-rights advocate, was given a ballot to vote in the Democratic Party primary. In that day, the Democratic nominee was all but assured of election and thus, the Democratic primary was the “real” election. Nixon had become involved in the civil rights movement after seeing the disgusting number of lynchings of black men in Texas, one of which occurred in Cameron where Nixon was practicing at the time. He moved to El Paso, established a successful medical practice, helped organize a Methodist congregation, voted in Democratic primary and general elections, and in 1914 helped to organize the local chapter of the NAACP. But in 1923 the Texas legislature passed a law prohibiting blacks from voting in Democratic primaries. In 1924, with the sponsorship of the NAACP, Nixon took his poll-tax receipt to a Democratic primary polling place and was refused a ballot. This began a twenty-year legal fight. Nixon and his attorney, Fred C. Knollenberg, twice prevailed at the U.S. Supreme Court in their quest to secure voting rights for blacks. The Nixon decisions were major steps toward voting rights, but Texas and the dominant Democratic Party employed a number of legal maneuvers to continue to deny primary votes to blacks. Only after the decision in Smith v. Allwright ended the white primary system, did blacks have a clear right to vote.