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Texas Matters: Beto On Voter Supression And The House Elections Committee

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Beto O’Rourke came within 2 percentage points of winning the election in 2018 against Republican Ted Cruz to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate.

While disappointing, the loss does have a silver lining for Texas Democrats. Many saw this race as proof that Texas is now a swing state, and recent polling in Texas in the presidential race supports that theory.

There is a demographic trend that demonstrates that Texas is moving to a shade of blue. But it remains to be seen if that is going to happen in the 2020 election.

O’Rourke did run for the Democratic nomination for president but failed to find his breakout moment. Since then, he has been working to turn the Texas House of Representatives blue in 2020. Currently, Democrats are down nine seats in the state House, after picking up 12 in 2018.

O’Rourke has also been trying to register more Texans to vote. Texas is one of the most difficult states to register, and O’Rourke says that has only become more difficult during the pandemic.

House Elections Committee

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed many of the flaws in our social systems including how we have elections in Texas. The lack of online voter registration is just one example. The restriction on mail in ballots is another issue that is going to force millions of Texans to vote in person and risk contracting the virus.

The laws that govern Texas elections are first introduced in the Texas House Elections Committee. Since the state House has a Republican majority, this committee is also controlled by Republicans, and bills that could make voting and registering to vote are consistently stymied in votes that slice along party lines.

Philip Cortez is the Vice Chair of the House Committee on Elections. The San Antonio Democrat says if Democrats take control of the House they will be able to fix many of the election problems that have come to light during the pandemic.

David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi