Texas’ election laws might need fixing, but not this way.
Catering to the 52% of Texas Republicans who think the national election results were “very inaccurate,” Texas lawmakers have swashbuckled into action to plug leaks in the system.
But some of the fixes don’t fix anything. They just deter voters.
For example, the Texas Senate passed a bill last week that will make long voting lines even longer.
Among other changes, Senate Bill 7 by state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, does away with big voting locations and prevents county officials from shifting machines to, say, Keller or Southlake boxes to meet demand.
Basically, it’s socialism for voting machines.
Every part of Tarrant County would get the same number of locations and machines divided along Texas House district lines, regardless whether voters actually go there or elsewhere.
Mansfield’s polling places already have long lines. They would be cut to the same number of machines as Azle or Benbrook.
And forget voting at work in downtown Fort Worth. The courthouse is in state Rep. Nicole Collier’s sprawling district, so those machines would have to be spread to serve residents in Morningside Heights, Forest Hill and Handley.
“They’re trying to make sure everybody gets the same number of machines, and the intent is good, but it’s going to be difficult to actually do in practice,” said Dallas County Republican Chairman Rodney Anderson, a former House member.
If there’s a problem with the way Harris County (Houston) allots machines for Republican boxes, that can be addressed without forcing all polling places to be equal, Anderson said.
“I like how they’re trying to protect the integrity of our elections,” Anderson said.
“This is going to take some tweaking.”
State Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, is a former chair of the House elections committee.
That section of Hughes’ bill is meant to make voting more convenient, she said.
“I know there’s a push to go to voting centers,” she sad, “but if you live in a poor, older neighborhood, it’s easier to vote close to home.”
Fine. But dividing machines equally doesn’t work unless you can divide the long lines equally.
Some cities and voting locations always have a giant turnout. Some don’t.
Hughes’ bill would move more machines to locations with fewer voters.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley, a Hurst Republican.
“You’re going to have to reduce the number of machines at the main locations. People will have to stand in line longer.”
If it’s not voter suppression, it’s at least voter inconvenience.
“To me, the goal is to get people to vote,” Whitley said.
“We just went to voting centers — everybody said they loved them. The [Senate] just killed them.”
Whitley had one more comment for his fellow Republicans in Austin:
“We’re in the middle of a pandemic. We’ve had problems with our electric grid. And they’re screwing around with how many machines we can have in a polling place?”
Oh, that’s not all.