Commentary

Texas Dems’ walkout highlights the absurdity of nationwide voting debate

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Dozens of Democrats fled the state of Texas on Monday headed for Washington, D.C. in an act of blatant, hyperpartisan showmanship to block House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1, two new election-related bills introduced in the Legislature’s special session.

The Democrats’ exodus prevents the GOP-controlled Legislature from passing any bills, as they need two-thirds of the Legislature present to have a quorum.

The move comes following Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to call a special session last week after Democrats successfully blocked, also by walkout, Senate Bill 7, in May.

The bills mostly contain common sense reforms, many of which already existed as law in other states far before the 2020 election.

The effort contains two main changes to voting by mail: strengthened identification requirements and a prohibition on election officials sending out unsolicited absentee ballot applications.

The bills would grant partisan poll watchers easier access to polling places and outlaw drive-thru voting and 24-hour polling centers. They also mandate an extra hour per day of early voting for local elections. 

In sum, the reform package doesn’t change as much as critics say they do. 

The fact that both sides of the aisle refuse to come together to even have a dialogue on the subject is both sad and frustrating at the same time.

It’s a shame an issue as key and central to our democratic process as voting has become so polarized and partisan. Yes, contrary to prevailing sentiments, you can both condemn the disproven misinformation about the 2020 election while wanting popular election security measures. And yes, you can vehemently support voting rights without supporting the federalization of our elections. These ideas are not mutually exclusive, and it need not be a binary choice in these endeavors. 

The vast majority of Americans, as high as 81 percent according to a recent Monmouth poll, support voter ID laws as a means of ensuring only eligible citizens can vote. The same poll found 71 percent of Americans feel early voting should be made easier. Clearly, the majority of the American electorate do not fall into either of the two camps established on election law today by the two major political parties. 

The Monmouth researchers also revealed roughly one-third of Americans remain convinced that the results of the 2020 election were fraudulent.

The disparity shows that, against the rhetoric commonplace with our politicians, most people lie somewhere in the middle on these issues. Most people want secure elections, and rightfully so, while also making it to be easier for eligible citizens to vote.

As shown above in an AP-NORC poll, photo ID for voting is overwhelmingly popular among the American people, as is automatic voter registration, which Maine adopted two years ago.

Regardless of where one stands on voting rights issues, the bills in Texas deserve to be debated by the people’s representatives. That’s what legislators are elected to do.

But when one group of lawmakers shirk their Constitutional duty and walk out on their constituents, any potential for dialogue is lost, as is the opportunity to deliver for the people of their state.

About Nick Linder

Nicholas Linder, of Cincinnati, is a communications Intern for Maine Policy Institute. He is going into his second year of studying finance and public policy analysis at The Ohio State University. On campus, he is involved with Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations and Business for Good.

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