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Texas Matters: The GOP Strategy To Weaken Democracy

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David Martin Davies

This week at the Texas capitol the Republican-led legislature had a historic week for advancing a battery of issues celebrated by their right-wing base. Bills were passed that will essentially outlaw abortion in Texas. Transgender children will be barred from school sports. Permitless carry of guns advanced, cracked down on efforts to reform the cash bail system and much more.

But one item that that remains undeterred by the Republican lawmakers, despite public outcry, is a set of bills that will restrict voting.

Scott Braddock is one of the best sourced reporters covering Texas state government and the legislature. He is the editor of the Quorum Report, an online newsletter that covers Texas politics.

Disability and Voting

As Republican lawmakers push for voter restrictions in the name of voter security, they frequently cite the need to protect the voting rights of those who live with disabilities. Many who are visually impaired or otherwise are challenged accessing a conventional ballot will frequently rely on assistance to exercise their franchise. This has been identified by Republicans as a weak link in voter integrity and targeted with new laws and harsh criminal penalties. Jeff Miller is with Disability Rights Texas.

Anti-Democracy Strategy

As the Republican leadership of Texas pushes for restricting voting in state elections, Texas isn’t alone. Republican-led states across the nation are seeing suspiciously similar actions — most notably Georgia. There new restrictions on voting include outlawing the distribution of water for those waiting in line to vote. All of this effort to constrict voting rights in multiple states is part of a national strategy — that’s according to Jake Grumbach, a political scientist at the University of Washington. Grumbach says these restrictive voting laws follow a pattern in a much broader trend. He says the Republican Party, despite losing elections, is not interested in modifying its platform to appeal to a broader spectrum of voters — because its current base won’t allow it. That current GOP political base is made of corporate interests who want low taxes and minimum government regulations — and rank-and-file voters who reject multiracial democracy.

Bloody Knuckles

What’s happening in the state legislature today — race-based attacks on voting and civil rights — is not new. This is as old as the founding of Texas itself. And it has continued as a dominant theme in the development of Texas and the crafting of state laws and institutions.

Long time Texas based reporter and author Bill Minutaglio makes that case in his new book: A Single Star and Bloody Knuckles: A History of Politics and Race in Texas.

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