Adult Texans don’t have to vote, but we do have to elect a government.
Regrettably, our state’s low voter turnout is ranked 46th nationwide, a black eye for Texas exceptionalism. We can do better. Given society’s discord, we need to know our election administrators are right when they declare a winner, and as Americans, we should encourage everyone to be heard.
Illegal voting isn’t widespread: The Texas Attorney General’s Election Integrity Division’s website advertises that office has “successfully prosecuted” only 531 offenses since 2004. Meanwhile, in those 15 years, over 100 million votes were cast statewide.
I recently testified before the Texas House Elections Committee that the best way to guarantee election integrity is to increase the number of legal voters. The committee chair declared suppressive HB-6, with new harsh penalties for voting fraud, was designed to “protect the sanctity of the ballot box,” but you can’t achieve perfection by being punitive.
Nearly all Texas voters devotedly cast their ballots legally, and we who play by the rules should be rewarded with better voting options. Millions of law-abiding Texas voters each election vastly outnumber whatever few crooks seek to vote illegally. Jail them, and free us.
Same-day registration and voting, drive-through voting, accessible mail-in ballot drop box locations, late-night voting hours for shift workers, expanded weekend voting: These innovations are proven to increase legal voter turnout.
Texas businesses always adapt, broadening their availability to meet customers’ diverse needs. Why doesn’t government do the same? You can drive through to purchase a meal, but you can’t drive-through and vote. I scribble my signature on the electronic keypad to pay for groceries, but my son’s ballot was canceled because his mail-in signatures supposedly didn’t match. Texans buy guns in 30 minutes at Academy, but we have to register to vote 30 days before an election. Government needs to catch up.
Our history is one of forging a more perfect Union. The United States and Texas emerged from brutal repression. Following the American Civil War, the United States passed the 14th Amendment. Decades later, the states ratified the 19th Amendment, and women gained the right to vote. The civil rights movement produced the Voting Rights Act of 1965. High school students can vote at the age of 18. That’s continued progress and enlightenment in the American vote.
Texas HB-6 and its companion Texas SB-7 reverse that progress, seeking to suppress Texans’ right to vote, and doing that tragically disrespects our American experience.
It’s imperative that Texas voters call these bills out for what they are: HB-6 and SB-7 intend to make voting harder. That’s unconstitutional, anti-Texan and un-American.
The Texas Legislature should adopt innovations that election administrators developed for the 2020 cycle because voters liked them, turning out in historically high numbers to show our approval. Texas voters, where the real power of government dwells, deserve broadly empowering voting laws.