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Texas Matters: Where Are All The Early Voters?

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David Martin Davies

Election Day is Tuesday November 8th and we are being told that democracy is on the ballot. If that’s true, then it looks like democracy is in trouble.

Comparing voter turnout from four years ago, the last midterm election, the number of ballots cast is significantly reduced.

Why is that? It was thought that the abortion issue would motivate voters or that the January 6th insurrection would. But so far there appears to be a lackluster level of enthusiasm for voting.

Also, take into account that Texas has added about two million people since 2018.

So where are the voters?

Lower turnout in mail-in voting can also be attributed to former President Donald Trump’s message that mail-in ballots are highly susceptible to fraud. And some high-profile conservatives have criticized early voting. They want 100% one-day voting, no exceptions. This could dampen enthusiasm for early voting in some quarters.

But we should take into account that Texas has made voting more difficult since the 2020 presidential election. Now there are fewer exceptions for mail-in ballots and most curbside voting has ended.

A recent report looking at ease of voting, or also expressed as “cost of voting,” pegs Texas again as one of the worst states to vote in.

The 2022 Cost of Voting in the American States index, published in the Election Law Journal, has Texas actually slipping from 45th to 46.

The four states with worse index scores than Texas are Wisconsin and Arkansas, Mississippi and New Hampshire.

The best state to vote in is Oregon, which has an all vote-by-mail process.

Michael Pomante is a co-author of the study.

Young Voters

Looking at data from early voting so far in Texas, it does look like younger voters aren’t stampeding to the polls. You can blame that on the apathy of youth. Consider, too, that many Texas universities don’t have early-voting locations on campus. And state laws regarding voter ID and registration make it hard to turn out younger voters,

To find out more I talked to Sarah Batson, a current student at the University of Texas at Austin and the Student Advisory Board Chair for Fair Elections Center's Campus Vote Project,

Voter Intimidation

Another reason why early voting is down is that voter intimidation is up. That’s according to the Texas Civil Rights Project. They say Reports of voter intimidation in Texas are unusually egregious this election.

Christina Beeler, voting rights staff attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project, says there have also been multiple reports of intimidation during early voting across the state.

If you experience voter intimidation and would like to report it – call or text the Texas Civil Rights Project’s hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)

Republican Accountability

The midterm elections are putting election denying to the test —to see if candidates will be penalized by voters if they reject that President Biden won the 2020 election. There is no evidence that Trump was cheated despite multiple claims and unhinged conspiracy theories. Texas has the most election deniers on the ballot – and they are all Republicans. In fact, the Texas Republican Party platform officially rejects Biden as the legitimate president.

But there are Republicans who reject that as fiction, and that’s dangerous to the future of American democracy.

The Republican Accountability Project has an ad campaign to spread the message that real Republicans and conservatives want Republicans to stop sowing distrust in our elections – even if it means voting for Democrats – for the good of the country.

Gunner Ramer is the political director for the Republican Accountability Project.

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