Fascist Voter Suppression Laws Loom in Texas

| revcom.us

 

On July 7, the Republi-fascists in Texas introduced two bills in the state legislature that would massively disenfranchise Black and Latino voters. This move comes on the heels of the July 1 Supreme Court ruling that set a precedent (a standard other courts must follow) for approving voter suppression laws even when there is uncontested evidence that those laws make it more difficult for Black people, Latinos and Native Americans to vote.

The new Texas laws include:

  • A ban on outdoor, drive-through voting: In the 2020 presidential election, Harris County (which encompasses Houston and is about 70 percent non-white) allowed people to vote from their cars. One in ten early, in-person voters in Harris County voted from their cars. All the rules and procedures for verifying that people were properly registered were applied to people in their cars. There was no evidence of voter fraud associated with outdoor voting from cars.
  • Limits on third-party voter collection: Between 2012 and 2018, selective closure of polling places in Texas had the effect of forcing Black and Latino voters to travel further to vote. In La Salle County for example, the average driving distance to vote increased by 4 percent for white voters and by 42 percent for voters of color. To try to overcome this, activists organized ways for third parties (volunteers or others) to pick up ballots from people who could not access a polling station.
  • A ban on 24-hour voting stations: This locks out people whose work or other schedules prevent them from voting during daytime hours.

Other sections of the new laws would make it harder to get absentee ballots; add new voter ID requirements; increase criminal penalties for election workers who violate the new laws; limit assistance that can be provided to voters; and greatly expand the authority of partisan “poll watchers” in ways that will be used by Republicans to intimidate and challenge voters.

For generations, Black people were denied the right to vote in the South through law and terror. That only changed with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That law was only passed after heroic struggle and sacrifice of people who risked and gave their lives in a movement that exposed the white supremacist nature of this country to the world. Today, disenfranchising Black and Latino voters is aimed at a return to those dark days, and has a distinctly apartheid1 dimension in Texas where 60 percent of the population is non-white but an overtly white supremacist party rules the state.

Voting under this system has always served to steer people into the deadly quicksand of believing the system can deliver justice to the oppressed. Even so, the Republicans are on a mission to “clear the ground” of any opposition to their fascist agenda of undisguised white supremacy, extreme women-enslaving patriarchy, vicious dehumanization of non-white immigrants, and shredding any pretense of democratic rights. Voter suppression is a key link in that agenda. Already this year, 28 laws restricting voting have passed in 17 states.

What is the response of the Democratic Party?

In a speech at historically Black Howard University, Vice President Kamala Harris said, “We are going to assemble the largest voter protection team we have ever had to ensure that all Americans can vote and have your vote counted in a fair and transparent process.” This when the Republicans are moving full-steam-ahead to make that impossible in state after state; using the filibuster to block any kind of federal law to address voter suppression (a procedure the Democrats could overturn but will not); and doing so with the backing of the fascist-packed Supreme Court.

What’s behind the paralysis of the Democrats? A DECLARATION, A CALL TO GET ORGANIZED NOW FOR A REAL REVOLUTION gets to the heart of it:

The Democrats are trying to keep things together with more disguise and deception, with the claim that what exists in this country is a “great democracy” representing “the will of the people,” and for this reason it deserves to be, and needs to be, the most powerful force in the world. But, in reality, both of these ruling class parties are working to maintain the violent oppressive power, the dictatorship, of this capitalist-imperialist system, with all the horrors for humanity this involves.

 


1. Apartheid was the set of laws through which a white minority ruled over and violently imposed vicious oppression on the black African people of South Africa from 1948 until the early 1990s.  [back]


People wait to vote at Southern Texas University, March 2020. Photo: Allyn West


Cops viciously attack a march for voting rights in Selma, March 1965.

 

 

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