TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS CALL ON SECRETARY OF STATE TO ADDRESS VOTING ADMINISTRATION FAILURES AHEAD OF 2022 PRIMARIES
The Texas Secretary of State’s poor handling of the state’s new anti-voter laws leaves Texans’ freedom to vote in jeopardy during the 2022 primary election
Austin, TX — Today, 30 civil rights groups in Texas, led by the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), MOVE Texas Action Fund, and Common Cause Texas, sent a letter to the Texas Secretary of State calling for stronger action to ensure voters are not denied access to the ballot leading up to the primaries on March 1. This year, Texas elections are taking place under the new rules enacted by Senate Bill 1 (SB 1), an anti-voter law that has already caused issues for the elderly and disabled voters that use vote-by-mail.
The letter details the Secretary of State’s failure to protect the rights of Texas voters, including neglecting to provide adequate and timely guidance to counties about how to handle new rules and the failure to secure enough paper to print voter registration forms—a blunder “solved” by rationing applications ahead of the the registration deadline. These mistakes have threatened thousands of voters and fueled a crisis of confidence in the Secretary of State’s Office as we entered the 2022 primary season.
In the letter, Texas voting rights advocates make direct calls-to-action for a more just election process, including:
- Ensuring that county election officials have clear and practical guidance on how to implement all of the new election laws, especially Senate Bill 1
- Expanding efforts to educate voters about all of the recent changes, including the new mail ballot tracker website
- Working with counties to protect voters who are facing a new wave of voter intimidation and political violence, including potentially from newly emboldened partisan poll watchers inside polling places
- Guaranteeing that voters will not have to wait in hours-long lines to vote, as Texas saw during the March 2020 primaries
“The difficulties voters in Texas are experiencing right now were predictable when state leaders voted on Senate Bill 1—and we said as much to the Legislature last summer. Voters are confused, and we are concerned about the impact that this will have over the next two weeks and into the midterms in November,” said James Slattery, Senior Staff Attorney for the Voting Rights Program at the Texas Civil Rights Project. “We are coming together to ask you, Secretary Scott, to step up and protect the freedom to vote. It is the Secretary of State’s responsibility to do everything in his power to make sure every voice is heard and every vote counted on election day, and we will not be silenced until you make sure that is the case.”
“Altogether, the issues stemming from the passage of anti-voter Senate Bill 1 create multiple deliberate barriers to voting with far-reaching consequences,” said Charlie Bonner, Communications Director for MOVE Texas Action Fund. “These failures have led to mass confusion surrounding our voting processes that continue to undermine trust in our elections. The longer these issues go unaddressed, the more voters impacted, and the more extreme the impacts on our democracy become. At MOVE Texas, we will never stop fighting to protect the freedom to vote and working to ensure every eligible Texan has the resources they need to be a voter.”
“A ‘government by the people’ should encourage people to participate – not create barriers to keep people from voting. Unfortunately, Texas voters are continuously tormented by state officials who prioritize their ideological agendas over the will of the voters they serve,” said Stephanie Gómez, Associate Director for Common Cause Texas. “Unlike Secretary Scott, we have been working directly with voters to provide the support and guidance that they deserve in the wake of the confusion of Senate Bill 1. Texas voters deserve much better than a hyper-partisan chief elections officer bound and determined to keep making things worse.”
Despite the deliberate barriers to voting enacted by the Texas Legislature, there are still many ways Texans can ensure their vote is counted this spring. Early voting for the 2022 primaries begins today, February 14, and voters can apply for a mail-in ballot by February 18. During early voting and on election day on March 1, Texans can vote in-person at local polling locations, and eligible voters can utilize curbside voting.
If you experience any difficulty voting, please call the Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE.
To read the full letter to the Secretary of State, please visit: https://bit.ly/SecOfStateLetter .