Recently the State of Texas passed a bill that was disguised as a voting integrity measure, but in reality, puts more restrictions on the voting process. In a podcast interview with Jon Favreau, former U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke (who challenged Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018) discussed the Texas bill and its adverse effects on voting.
Tag Archives: voter suppression
Podcast of the Week – May 15, 2021
Worst Quotes of the Week – March 20, 2021
“It was Barack Obama himself who knew about the dangers of ballot harvesting in the state of Texas because under his administration, he sent his U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, as well as the FBI, to south Texas to arrest and to prosecute people who were involved in ballot harvesting that were using cocaine to buy votes through the ballot harvesting process in the state of Texas.”
Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX), claiming efforts by the Democratic National Party to secure elections would result in people using cocaine to buy votes
Abbott went on to say, “And when you look at some of the things that they are talking about with regard to H.R. 1, they are trying to institutionalize voter fraud in the United States of America. They want to make mail-in ballots permanent. Everyone knows – including Democrats in Texas – have said that one of the easiest ways to cheat in elections is through these mail-in ballots.”
“Even though those thousands of people that were marching to the Capitol were trying to pressure people like me to vote the way they wanted me to vote, I knew those were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, and so I wasn’t concerned… Now, had the tables been turned – Joe, this could get me in trouble – had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”
Sen. Ron Johnson, on the January 6 Capital Hill riots
“There’s old sayings in Texas about, you know, find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree. You know, we take justice very seriously and we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys. That’s what we believe.”
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), mentioning lynching as a form of justice during congressional hearings about anti-Asian-American violence
Best Quotes of the Week – March 6, 2021
“Abbott has purposefully injected a new infection into the state in the form of irresponsible policies that will promote unnecessary infection, hospitalization and death.”
Dr. Kavita Patel, on the announcement by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to reopen the state 100% to retailers, restaurants and other businesses, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic
“The Republican Party’s biggest problem is that too many people of color are exercising their right to vote. The party’s solution is a massive push for voter suppression that would make old-time Jim Crow segregationists proud.”
Eugene Robinson, in a Washington Post editorial
“I think a lot of us assumed that we were the dominant gene – if only because the country was changing so much – that out of its own self-interest the party would have to change. We saw the dark side. We thought it was a recessive gene. And I don’t know any conclusion to come to except that we were wrong.”
Stuart Stevens, on MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” 03/03/21
Worst Quotes of the Week – November 28, 2020
“The other legal theory they have, which is a potentially strong one, is that the computers, either fraudulently or by glitches, changed hundreds of thousands of votes. There, there are enough votes to make a difference, but I haven’t seen the evidence to support that. So, in one case, they don’t have the numbers. In another case, they don’t seem yet to have the evidence, maybe they do. I haven’t seen it. But the legal theory is there to support them if they have the numbers and they have the evidence.”
– Alan Dershowitz, a Donald Trump attorney, proposing different means to contest the 2020 presidential election
“The DC U.S. Attorney today confirmed to me that they will not pursue an investigation of who is funding the thugs who attacked my wife and me and sent a DC police officer to the hospital.”
– Sen. Rand Paul, responding to an announcement that his allegation of being attacked by a group of “paid anarchists” while walking back to his hotel this past August won’t be investigated
Video of the Week – November 21, 2020
On Thursday, November 19, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, and several Trump campaign officials staged a news conference at the Republican National Committee headquarters to denounce the outcome of the presidential elections. It was roughly 90 minutes of conspiracy theories and fact-smashing.
Memo of the Week – November 14, 2020
On November 9, U.S. Attorney General William Barr sent this memo to U.S. attorneys across the country, authorizing an exception to U.S. Justice Department guidelines, and telling top federal prosecutors they could “pursue substantial allegations of voting and vote tabulation irregularities prior to the certification of elections in your jurisdictions in certain cases.”
As a Trump man, Barr is prolonging the presidential elections by continually howling about voter fraud.
Worst Quotes of the Week – September 26, 2020
“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”
– President Donald Trump, expressing concerns over voter fraud during a White House press briefing
“We’ve hit — they say — an ominous number, ladies and gentlemen. Two hundred thousand people have died from the coronavirus. That is the biggest lie this century.”
– Mark Levin, on his radio program The Mark Levin Show
Levin went on to declare, “Two hundred thousand people died who may have had the coronavirus, but less than 10,000 died from and only from the coronavirus.”
So This Is Who We Have?
“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”
Both the 2020 Democratic and Republican National Conventions have come to an end, and I couldn’t be happier. Last week former Vice-President Joe Biden accepted the Democrat’s nomination for president, while Sen. Kamala Harris accepted the vice-presidential role. And, over the last few days, incumbent President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence accepted their respective nominations from the GOP. Aside from watching these political love fests conclude, the only thing that excites me more about this entire process is that the demise of the 2020 presidential race is in sight. I feel even more disenfranchised than I did four years ago.
Okay, one other thing that truly excites me is the prospect that Donald Trump will be voted out of office in November. But I have to concede that I’m not too thrilled with the idea of a Biden presidency. Joe Biden was good as vice-president, but I feel less secure with him in the role of Chief Executive. I’m certain, though, he’ll be much better than Trump. Hell, a stray dog would be better than Trump!
In 2016 I voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. A physician, Stein had been the Green Party’s candidate four years earlier. I knew Iceland would see 80-degree temperatures on Christmas Day before Stein would win the U.S. presidency. But I didn’t like either Trump or the Democratic choice of Hillary Clinton. Clinton supporters blamed people like me for Clinton’s loss in 2016. But we didn’t cause Hillary Clinton to lose the 2016 presidential election. Hillary Clinton caused Hillary Clinton to lose the 2016 presidential election. Her and the Russians. As we now know, Russia essentially elected Trump; just like the U.S. Supreme Court elected George W. Bush in 2000. America’s role as the beacon of democracy seems to have been shredded over the past 20 years.
I just never liked Hillary Clinton. I loved Bill (Whose Your Daddy?) Clinton, but I never took a liking to Hillary. By 2016, she had acquired top much baggage; more baggage than a Samsonite warehouse or a Lufthansa flight fresh in from Berlin.
And I definitely didn’t like Trump. Donald Trump had been running for president for some 30 years by the time he made it official in 2015. The idea had arisen back in the 1980s, when his name and persona first became public, and much of the nation had grown enamored with the concept of rapid-fire wealth and public prestige. As AIDS and cocaine rampaged, many in the U.S. found the likes of Trump appealing. He survived the collapse of the financial industry related to the savings-and-loan crisis and the string of high-profile prosecutions that ensued. It seemed there was a price to pay for fiduciary recklessness. No one knew at the time, though, that Trump was actually a womanizing failed businessman and tax cheat. We know that well enough now. But he’s president. And, as another massive health crisis grips the nation and the world, we see how incompetent and ineffective Donald Trump really is.
I’m sure Joe Biden can do better. But I keep thinking Biden should have called it a political life after his vice-presidency ended in January of 2017. He should have retired to his estate in Delaware to consult on other political campaigns, give speeches and write books. He’d served his time in office; he’d done his duty.
For the Democratic Party, the 2020 presidential campaign had started with high promises and an extraordinarily bright future. The field of candidates was the most diverse that had ever existed among any political party. But, by March, we’d ended up with two old White guys: Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Kind of like the Republican Party. And I say this with all due respect to old White men. I mean, I’m a mostly White man myself – in the golden days of middle age. And, as I’ve declared before, White men aren’t the nexus of evil in America they’re often portrayed to be. But I personally had hoped Sen. Elizabeth Warren would be the Democrats’ choice. I would definitely be more excited with her at the head of the ticket.
As usual, there has been no real mention of either the Green or Libertarian Parties. They’ve essentially been locked out of the convention hall – again. And Americans are overwhelmed by the demagoguery of the Democratic and Republican Parties – again. Indeed, the U.S. is becoming less and less like a democracy and more like an oligarchy. Does my vote – or the vote of any individual – truly count? Throughout the year the U.S. has seen covert attempts by the Trump Administration to thwart the right to vote – one of the foundational pillars of any free society. That’s typical of social and political conservatives. While the Republican Party of the 19th century pushed for the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it was the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that propelled many conservatives into the arms of the GOP. Recent efforts to enforce voter identifications, calls for limiting early voting days and ongoing battles to undermine mail-in voting prove that conservatives – the ones who will move Heaven and Earth to protect their sacred gun rights – will do anything possible to circumvent the voting process.
And here we are: stuck with two old men who represent more of America’s past than its future. I was enthralled with Bill Clinton and I liked Barack Obama. Yet, I just can’t bring myself to get excited with the current campaign.
My two biggest fears? If Trump is reelected, the nation will descend further into social chaos and economic madness. If Biden is elected, he may die in office, which will send the nation into equally unending chaos.
I know I will vote nonetheless. People have fought and died for this right – even within the past 100 years. There are literally millions of people across the globe who would relish the chance to choose between the lesser of two or three evils. The people of Belarus certainly wish they had that opportunity now. Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic and a rash of voter suppression tactics, I will stand in line to select a candidate for the U.S. presidency. It’s my right and my obligation. Besides, I have nothing else to do two days before my 57th birthday.
Truth Amid the Obstruction
No time is right for a health pandemic, but COVID-19 couldn’t have arisen at a more inconvenient period for Americans: at the start of the 2020 presidential election race. Things had been proceeding somewhat normally until March, when concerns about the “novel coronavirus” began altering the social landscape. When I saw that this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo had been postponed – possibly to next year – I knew our world had been capsized by this invisible biological menace. Viruses, like facts, always have a way of sneaking into our lives and making us rethink everything we’ve ever learned. Facts, however, are good things. But, while a crisis of any kind can bring out the best humanity has to offer, it can also bring out the worst.
Right now political conservatives in the U.S. are trying to finagle the COVID-19 miasma into an obstructionist nightmare for the voting populace. Last week thousands of voters in Wisconsin were forced to leave their homes and venture out to designated polling places to cast their votes for a candidate in the Democratic primary. On April 6, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, refused to allow an extension of absentee voting in Wisconsin; thus, forcing the primary to go on as planned on April 7. On April 2, a federal judge had ruled that absentee voting can be extended. But unsurprisingly, the Republican National Committee appealed the ruling, which landed on the docket of the High Court.
In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that “the court’s order, I fear, will result in massive disenfranchisement.” She went on: “Because gathering at the polling place now poses dire health risks, an unprecedented number of Wisconsin voters – at the encouragement of public officials – have turned to voting absentee. About one million more voters have requested absentee ballots in this election than in 2016. Accommodating the surge of absentee ballot requests has heavily burdened election officials, resulting in a severe backlog of ballots requested but not promptly mailed to voters.”
Political conservatives don’t like it when people they consider insignificant actually have the audacity to practice their right to vote. For a good part of American history, they’ve done just about everything they could – including intimidation and violence – to stifle voting rights; which, they’ve obviously forgotten, is one of the fundamentals of a democratic society. The right to vote is clearly mentioned in the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution! Then again, they may not necessarily forget about it, as they just ignore it. And they always seem to skip over to focus attention on the 2nd Amendment, which addresses firearms.
Conservatives established and enforced such obstructionist tactics as “grandfather clauses”, literacy tests, and poll taxes. Voting advocates had to fight for confidential voting. Early feminists had to do the same to get the 19th Amendment ratified. When President Lyndon Johnson signed the 1965 Voting Rights Act into law, he conceded that he and his fellow Democrats had probably handed the South to the Republican Party. And he was right! Slowly, but surely, over the ensuing decade, many White southerners began switching to the GOP. A number of well-known U.S. politicians, such as Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms, also changed their allegiances to the Republican Party.
The election of Barack Obama solidified in the minds of many conservatives the horrors of expanded voting. They then launched a number of efforts – both at the national and state levels – to ensure that would never happen again. A slew of voter identification rules were suddenly enacted.
The COVID-19 scourge has prompted calls across the nation for expanded absentee voting, such as mail-ins, which has been rebuffed by conservatives who holler voter fraud could result. This week Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton opined that fear of catching the virus does not qualify voters to vote by mail.
But State Judge Tim Sulak ruled that Texans afraid of catching COVID-19 should be allowed to vote by mail during the pandemic, using the state’s disability clause in the state’s election code, and said he will issue a temporary injunction. The Texas Democratic Party and several had filed a lawsuit over concerns that voters in this July’s elections, including the primary runoffs, could come in contact with infected people when voting in person.
“Based on the plain language of the relevant statutory text, fear of contracting COVID-19 unaccompanied by a qualifying sickness or physical condition does not constitute a disability under the Election Code,” Deputy Attorney General Ryan M. Vassar wrote in a letter to Fort Worth State Rep. Stephanie Klick, a fellow Republican.
And, of course, Paxton was “disappointed” that Sulak had “ignored the plain text of the Texas election code to allow perfectly healthy voters to take advantage of special protections made available to Texans with actual illness or disabilities.”
The voter fraud claim is the default mantra of right-wing politicians every time they enact legislation that impacts the voting process. Texas Republicans have long opposed the expansion of mail-in voting. In 2017 the GOP-dominated state legislature stiffened penalties for election fraud.
“Our state is better off when more Texans participate in our democracy,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party. “Voting by mail is safe, secure and accessible. It allows more voters to participate in our democracy, and it’s a common sense way to run an election, especially during a public health crisis.”
Like the Texas Innocence Project, you know the Texas Democratic Party has their work cut out for them!
Currently, residents over age 65, military members, those who will be away from their residence during voting and people with disabilities can request mail-in ballots. Democrats argue that a disability, defined as a “sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring voters’ health,” covers all Texas voters under the age of 65, including those who are afraid to catch the COVID-19 virus.
In his letter to Klick, Vassar naturally disagreed, stating that fears of catching the virus is neither a sickness nor a physical condition, but an emotional reaction to the pandemic is not “sufficient to meet the definition of disability”.
It’s ironic that Vassar regards concerns of contracting COVID-19 as emotional. Throughout Obama’s presidency, conservatives screamed that his administration would ban all firearms, abandon Israel, and force churches to conduct same-sex weddings. None of that happened. It never has and most likely it never will. Yet, liberals are always justifiably concerned that voter suppression is a real possibility when conservatives are elected to office. Justifiably concerned because many state legislatures, such as Texas, actually have moved to enact legislation to combat the ubiquitous pandemic of voter fraud.
During Black civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, news cameras captured horrific scenes of police physically assaulting individuals or using water hoses to attack groups of African-Americans. I’ve seen some of that footage – startling black-and-white images of mostly peaceful citizens wanting to vote or be able to enter a restaurant and have a meal. We don’t see that now. Instead, we see elected officials use the power of their position to suppress voting. Firearms have metamorphosed into pens – but they pose no less of a risk.
While I have my own doubts about the effectiveness of the voting process – the fraud-ridden elections of George W. Bush and Donald Trump being the most recent examples – people in any truly democratic society have the right to cast a ballot. And eventually, the obstructionist tactics of those elected (not ordained) politicians will reveal the truth behind their dubious motives.
Filed under Essays