|In 2018, Democrats swamped Republicans in the large Texas counties with young activists and growing minority populations turning out in high numbers. Beto O’Rourke nearly beat Ted Cruz. Democrats picked up a dozen State House seats, all of them in districts with diverse populations, closing within just nine seats of a State House majority.
Nothing threatens one-party Republican control in Texas more than a large and diverse voting population. The Texas minority population has been growing rapidly for years. The latest population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau show Anglos make up less than half of the Texas population. The most popular Republican candidates receive no more than nominal support from African American voters and do only slightly better among Latinos. Republican support from Asian voters is also in decline.
To hold power, Texas Republicans have a choice to make: either become more inclusive and earn the support of minority Texans OR take actions to undermine and suppress growing minority voting strength. They’ve chosen the latter. Consider their actions during this decade:
- Texas Republicans adopted racial and partisan gerrymandered congressional, State Senate and State House redistricting plans that Courts ruled violated the Voting Rights Act and were drawn with discriminatory intent. Even after changes were demanded by the Courts, much of the damage done was retained.
- Texas Republicans adopted the most onerous Voter ID law in the nation – so bad that a federal judge ruled it intentionally discriminatory and called it a modern-day poll tax. The current Texas law remains restrictive and suppressive by any measure.
- Texas Republicans adopted punitive voter registration laws. For example, it is a crime in Texas for a person living in one county simply to assist a person living in another county to register to vote.
- Texas Attorneys General – first Greg Abbott and now Ken Paxton – use millions in taxpayer funds to file briefs aggressively challenging, appealing and arguing AGAINST existing voter protections and FOR efforts designed to restrict and discourage minority voters or new voters of any race.
The next likely step by Texas GOP leaders Greg Abbott, Ken Paxton and Dan Patrick will be to use the Secretary of State report to justify a broad purge of Texas voter rolls using criteria that zeroes in on new and minority voters. It’s a vote suppression tactic used in other Republican-controlled states with a history of racial discrimination. Paxton and Abbott have already telegraphed their sentiments with press releases and tweets citing the most recent Secretary of State report.