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Archive for January 24th, 2022

The Texas legislature’s leading champion of voting rights, State Sen. Carol Alvarado, authored an Op-Ed on the latest assault on our right to vote by Texas state government. The Op-Ed appeared in yesterday’s Chron. Here it is: 

Opinion: It’s past time for online voter registration in Texas 

The state’s chief election officer, the Texas secretary of state, recently announced that supply chain issues have forced the state to reduce the number of voter registration card applications available for the public. 

Voter registration organizations that have requested applications are only receiving a fraction of the number they request. 

This is inexcusable, indefensible and downright embarrassing. 

New 18-year-old adults, citizens who have moved to Texas from other states, naturalized citizens and previously unregistered Texans might not be able to exercise their right to vote in the upcoming election on March 1 because of a supply shortage of voter registration cards. 

We are not talking about not being able to buy toilet paper — it is our sacred right to cast a vote. This is sad, tragic, laughable and happening in real time. 

It didn’t have to be this way. 

I have filed legislation to allow universal online voter registration every session since 2013 and I will file a bill next session. 

If my bill gets a hearing, I will not need to call up a panel of experts to testify why we need the bill; I will just point to the events of this past week to make a compelling case. 

Online voter registration is safer, more secure and cheaper than its paper equivalent. 

It was first implemented close to 20 years ago in Arizona. Now 42 states and the District of Columbia allow online voter registration. This includes red, blue, purple, small and large states. 

Notably there have been no major scandals involving fraud or other issues that have caused states to scale back use of online voter registration. 

In August 2020, a federal court ruled that Texas was in violation of the National Voter Registration Act because the state was not giving residents the option to register to vote when they renewed their driver’s license. 

Texas was forced to comply and since then, 1.5 million Texans have used the online system to register to vote or change their voter registration address. We have not heard any reports from the Texas secretary of state that this system is being abused with fraudulent registrants. 

This latest episode of voting in Texas confirms the obvious. Texas is not a voter friendly state. 

Last summer, I stood for 15 hours straight on the floor of the state Senate to bring national attention to legislation that makes it difficult for Texans to access the ballot box. 

During my filibuster Texans from across the state sent me their concerns about this bill, including how difficult it would be for older Texans, veterans and those with disabilities to cast their vote. 

Nevertheless, Texas adopted the most restrictive voting measure of any state in the nation and we are already paying the price. 

One of the provisions I spoke out against was a new requirement for voters to include their state-issued ID card number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on mail ballot applications. The number needs to be the exact same one a voter used when they first registered to vote — even if it was decades ago. If the number doesn’t match, then the application must be rejected. 

So if you used your driver’s license number when you registered to vote but then you used your Social Security number for the mail ballot application, you’re out of luck. I warned that mail ballot applications would be rejected because of this unnecessary requirement. I was correct. 

We are now getting reports that election officials across the state have been forced to reject up to half of mail ballot applications because of confusion over what must be included on the application. What’s worse is the state has not provided a way for voters to correct their applications. 

We’re running out of time; mail ballots are already being sent out. It looks like the so-called election integrity legislation will disenfranchise many Democratic and Republican party primary voters. It is no secret that those in control of state government want to make it hard for certain folks to vote. 

That was on full display last year during the regular legislative session and subsequent special called sessions. There is, however, a difference in making it harder to vote and not letting you vote. 

The jig is up. Enough. Let’s join the rest of the country in the 21st century and get online with voter registration. 

Nice Op-Ed. It got a lot of play, likes and retweets on social media yesterday.  The Op-Ed had a lot of good quotes and lines that folks put out. 

Sen. Alvarado is one of my best friends and client. You already know that though. 

The Trib today has a story on the mail ballot fiasco Texas is facing right now. Here is the Trib piece: Texas vote-by-mail rejections add to confusion around new law | The Texas Tribune. 

The Breitbart fella on “What’s Your Point” yesterday morning  said about the mail ballot mess that it was “much ado about nothing.” 

He is just confirming what Sen. Alvarado wrote: “Texas is not a voter friendly state.” 

This past weekend, Harris County Judge Democratic candidate Erica Davis sent me a mail ballot application. It was a template of the form from the Texas Secretary of State. It also was not prefilled out, where all you must do is add your ID, social security last four digits, sign, put a stamp on it, and mail.  

I went online to check the status of my mail ballot and my Dad’s. Our mail ballots have been approved. I know how to navigate the system.  A lot of folks don’t. 

The Chron E-Board started rolling out their primary endorsements yesterday. They also put out their guidelines on their endorsement process. Here are some of their guidelines: 

If newspapers are objective, why recommend candidates? Newspapers don’t endorse candidates. Editorial boards do. The editorial board is separate from the newsroom. It is made up of opinion journalists with wide-ranging expertise whose consensus opinions and recommendations represent the voice of the institution — defined as the board members, their editor and the publisher. We do it as a service to our readers and to our democracy, which cannot flourish without an informed citizenry. For many busy people, researching each candidate isn’t possible. Rather than turn to partisan slates, some with pay-to-play motivations, we offer an alternative: informed candidate recommendations from nonpartisan journalists based on facts and careful analysis. 

Which races are included in the recommendations? Every contested statewide race, from governor to the Texas Supreme Court. Every contested race for Congress and the Texas Legislature on the Harris County ballot. Locally, we’ll cover every contested Harris County office and the eight contested races for Harris County criminal district judge. 

Any races we’re skipping? Yes. To protect quality, we’ve had to reduce quantity. We won’t recommend primary candidates for county courts of law or justices of the peace, or for civil, family or juvenile benches. We regret these omissions and hope to include them in future elections. 

That certainly was an epic NFL playoff weekend. Wow! In normal times, I probably would have rooted for Aaron Rodgers this past Saturday. After he got stupid, I rooted for the 49ers. 

Did I say wow! 

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