In a shocking move, Republicans in Texas now want to ban voting by mail for older Texans, claiming that "there is no reason, just because you've turned 65, that you can't show up to vote."
Never mind that voting in person, especially on election day, often involves standing in line for 30 minutes, an hour, or even longer. And never mind that Texas weather conditions are not only variable but frequently severe and that many older Texans have cut back or stopped driving, or do not even own cars.
For almost four decades Texas has actually been a leader in codifying early voting in person and by mail procedures that have been embraced by voters across the state. As an elections administrator in the state for 20 years, I can attest to the commitment of older Texans to voting--and to their strong preference for voting by mail.
This radical change is likely to backfire on the far right Republican leaders who are pushing it, partly in response to the infamous recommendations of the state Republican convention in Houston last month. The convention wrapped its arms around the Big Lie of Donald Trump and now use it as a pretext to limit access to the polls for voters who are more likely to vote Democratic.
“Texas Republicans rightly have no faith in the 2020 election results and we don’t care how many times the elites tell us we have to,” said Republican Party of Texas Chairman Matt Rinaldi, who was elected the leader of the party with no opposition.
Older Texans have had the right to vote by mail without citing any reason other than age since 1975. In the 1980s the Legislature also established no excuses early voting in person, open for about two weeks prior to election day. Both of these measures have been embraced by voters.
Now the Republicans also want to curtail the early voting in person period. New verification requirements pushed through in the last session resulted in 12 percent of mail ballots being initially rejected. The previous rejection rate was 1 percent.
“They’re clearly doing it to hold onto power,” Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa told the San Antonio Express-News.
About that, there is no doubt. The Big Lie is only a pretext for these actions. The goal is to maintain power at all costs, even if it disenfranchises older Texans.