Texas Republicans are leading a nationwide campaign to restrict voting rights, with politicians focusing on the electorate and policies that helped Democrats gain ground in the 2020 election.
Even as major Texas-based companies such as American Airlines express vehement opposition, Texas lawmakers have introduced 49 bills limiting voting access, far more than any other state.
Low-income residents, people with disabilities, city dwellers, and Texans of color, many of whom belong to diverse, young cohorts whose political beliefs pose a threat to the GOP, may be disproportionately affected by the provisions.
And, in a twist that sets Texas apart from other states that have enacted or are considering voting limits, such as Georgia and Arizona, some of the proposals place harsh penalties on people who make even minor mistakes.
The want to make that making an error on a voter registration application be treated as a second-degree crime, according to Sarah Labowitz, policy and litigation director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, is the equivalent of arson and aggravated kidnapping.
Current officeholders recognize that they won’t be able to win re-election based solely on concerns, so they’re shifting the goalposts, according to Claudia Yoli Ferla, executive director of public engagement non-profit Move Texas.
“These politicians are seeing the writing on the wall, and they’re terrified of young people’s influence. They’re afraid that the true voices of our societies will be heard,” says the author. Yoli Ferla said.
“Their priority is to remain in control, no matter what it takes,” said Ofelia Alonso, a regional field manager for youth organizers at Texas Rising Action. “And voter fraud is a good fearmongering way for them to rile up their base without having to admit what they’re doing is Jim Crow tactics.
“They won’t say what it is, however we know.”