I have heard much in the media regarding the proposed Texas voting law currently being debated in the Texas Legislature. However, I have never seen a side-by-side comparison of the Texas voting law that was in place for the 2020 Presidential election and the one currently being proposed. I admit that I don’t know all of the terms of either law but the following are some of the points that I believe I do understand:
- Some form of identification was required in 2020. Now it is proposed that identification will be required and a driver’s license or the last four digits of a social security card were the primary means of identification. Since at least one of these forms of identification is required for many of our daily activities – ranging from seeing a doctor to traveling – most Texas citizens should have one of both of these items, so this shouldn’t be a burden to anyone. I believe that the proposed legislation would provide a means for the state to provide an identification card for anyone that needs one.
- Drive-thru voting and 24-hour poll hours that were allowed in some jurisdictions in 2020 would be banned, but drive-up voting (which was in place in 2020) and two weeks of early voting with 12-hour poll hours and weekend voting (including voting hours beginning at 11 am on Sunday) would be allowed. These hours should allow everyone, including all shift workers and those who could not vote on Election Day, to have an opportunity to vote.
- Drop boxes would be more limited than was allowed in 2020. I cannot see the difference in the convenience of taking one’s ballot to a drop box or taking one’s ballot to a polling place.
- Ballot harvesting would be banned under the new law. Since every Texas citizen has access to the United States Postal Service, the elimination of ballot harvesting should not present any problem to anyone who cannot get to a polling place. Anyone with a mail-in ballot can simply put it in the outgoing mail and hand it to a postal worker who will guarantee that the ballot is returned to the post office.
- The one thing that I wish was in the proposed legislation is the mailing of absentee ballot applications to everyone on the voting rolls who is over 65 or has been identified as disabled by the Social Security Administration, Medicare or Medicaid. Any fraud associated with the absentee voting would require two steps. The first would be to return the application and the second would be to return a completed ballot.
- The responsibilities of poll watchers are changed in the new legislation but I am not sure how that affects the act of voting by our citizens. Also, voting rolls will be required to be updated but they were supposed to be regularly updated under the old laws, so again, I am not sure how that affects our citizen’s voting.
Voting is not only a right but also a responsibility and all responsibilities require some effort. Therefore, making it easier to vote is laudable and making it more difficult to cheat is also laudable. But voting should require some effort by individuals to obtain a ballot, complete the ballot, and return the ballot to be accurately counted.
The media, including Allen American, has a responsibility to the voting public to inform our citizens in an unbiased manner on what our current law contains and how the proposed legislation would change that law. Therefore, I would welcome an article doing just that so the citizens of North Texas can make up their own minds regarding the proposed election law and its role in voter suppression.