Texas standoff over voting bill fits nicely into national narrative

Voting rights standoff DB.GIF
Posted at 8:39 AM, Jul 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-15 20:31:35-04

AUSTIN, TX-Washington — The Texas House of Representatives falls silent as Democrat lawmakers board a plane at Bergstrom airport to ensure that for now. One piece of unfinished business, namely a bill to update voting rules across the state, remains unfinished.

"It breaks my heart that we have to do it, but we do it because we are in a fight to save our democracy," said Rep Chris Turner, D-Grand Prarie, who explained in a hastily-called press conference in Northern Virginia's Dulles Airport, Republicans had advanced the voting bill without consulting Democrats at all.

"Were refusing to remain Republican hostages in the Texas House of Representatives," Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston

Texas became one of several states to review election procedures. After citizen number one complained loudly and repeatedly, someone stole his election.

"This is a fraud on the American public," said former President Trump earlier this year.

And while the former President didn't find enough evidence to satisfy prosecutors or the courts, he did spotlight a few things that some said looked funny.

Enough to convince some people, he might have had something.

A relative handful of those folks, you'll remember, stormed the capitol causing all kinds of trouble.

You don't get much more American than Santiago Navarro, born on Fort Hood, he didn't personally have any problem voting but he says he's heard things.

"Do I think there was really a problem with the last election? Yeah, I think there was. I think it was rigged because I don't think they got a good headcount," said Navarro, of Bell County.

Much of the talk in the last election centered on mail-in ballots with some election chiefs freely offering or sending out mail-in ballot applications.

The problem is in Texas, that's against the current law, providing at least one problem, lawmakers wanted to fix.

"Well, what we're calling it is election integrity and just basically strengthens the integrity of elections in Texas," said Rep. Hugh Shine of Temple.

Here's what makes the debate between Republicans and Democrats so much more interesting.

A poll from the Associated Press, and the National Opinion Research Center, showed before the election, less than 30 percent of Democrats had confidence in the security of last year's vote, while almost half of Republicans did.

What a difference a day makes, because 7 days after the election, a Pew Research poll found Democrats and Republicans, flip-flopped.

Then, only one-fifth of Trump supporters had confidence in the vote, while almost 95% of Biden supporters did.

So you might say, both Democrats and Republicans had their suspicions.

Meantime the rhetoric from the White House went on, and on, and on.

But no one ever mentioned Texas in those statements, possibly because results put the Lone Star State directly behind the president.

Even Governor Abbott admits he didn't hear much about problems in Texas elections, but he called lawmakers back to fix some potential problems.

At least two other problems came from Harris County, which Pew Research describes as 64% conservative Republican, and 72% Liberal Democrat.

First, Interim County Clerk Chris Hollins called for a 24 hour day of voting with polling booths open around the clock for one day.

That violated the window of time set by the state.

Harris County really crossed Republicans, when Hollins rolled out drive-thru voting from the comfort and safety of your car.

Some said there's no telling what a voter might do in their car with a vote that a poll worker can't see.

"It's dangerous if they can change the vote if you can get in there with a thumb drive or you're getting hooked up to the internet, and in somebody's car, somebody could do that. That's exactly right," said Rep. Charles "Doc" Anderson, R-Waco

But long before that, Democrats had drawn a line in the sand, they would not cross.

"When President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Bill in 1965, I thought that would be put to rest forever, anyone's desires to strip away the rights for anyone to vote," said Thompson.

Democrats say when it comes to voting these days we cannot afford to do anything but keep moving forward.

But Republicans say the kind of outside-the-box thinking exhibited by Harris County Clerk Hollins, can lead to more fraud charges and more problems.

Problems people like Santiago Navarro seem convinced have to stop.

"Do I think people were voting that weren't supposed to? I think so," said Navarro.

And the longer the drama drags out, the longer folks like Navarro believe one side or the other, or even both, are up to something.