To: Press and Other Interested Parties
From: Matt Angle, Lone Star Project Director
Re: Abbott’s History of Discriminatory Vote Suppression
Date: March 26, 2021
With the hearing process underway in both the State House and the State Senate, Greg Abbott and Texas Republican legislators are moving forward with efforts to impose changes to Texas election law that would, by any fair measure, make voting harder in Texas. The efforts amount to overt, racially discriminatory voter suppression.
It is important for Texans to know that the Republican-proposed discriminatory voter suppression underway now is just their latest cheat-to-win gambit. It’s the newest play in a now two-decade long strategy by Greg Abbott and Texas Republicans to hold power and impose harmful state policies by undermining the voting strength of Hispanic, Black, Asian, and minority voters, along with new and young voters of all ethnicities.
The Lone Star Project has documented Abbott’s attacks on voting rights and constitutional protections from the beginning. The timeline below lays out “low-lights” of Abbott’s efforts to deny Texans voting rights and undermine their voting strength.
Voting in Texas is already more difficult than in any other state. Neither Abbott nor any Republican legislator have provided—now or ever—substantive evidence of widespread or even significant voter fraud in Texas.
Abbott’s passive-aggressive nature and flat demeanor sometimes obscure an important fact: Greg Abbott has been the point on the spear of racially discriminatory voter suppression in Texas since the day he became Texas Attorney General in 2003.
I also want to specifically point out an early action by Greg Abbott that many reporters and most Texans don’t know about but throws into relief Abbott’s overt hostility to basic civil rights and his use of official resources to harass and intimidate Texas voters, especially minority voters, and undermine their rights under the law.
Abbott Formed a Phony Voter Fraud Unit to Train Discrimination
Early in his tenure as Texas AG, Greg Abbott diverted $1 million in federal funds intended to fight cybercrime and online child porn to pay for a special unit he used to prosecute almost entirely minority Texans – all under the dishonest cover of “voter integrity.” Abbott’s phony voter fraud unit prosecuted less than two dozen mostly minority senior citizens but won no significant convictions. It did, however, prove to be a vicious tool for vote suppression and voter intimidation:
- Training racial discrimination – From his earliest days, Abbott saw any person of color voting as a threat. As part of his phony voter fraud efforts, Abbott and his agents at the AG went around the state giving a slide show tutorial on how to spot and report potential voter fraud. The examples he used expose Abbott’s discriminatory intent. He showed a slide of a sickle cell stamp as a suspicious sign of potential voter fraud, and he also showed a picture of African Americans standing in line to vote as a sign of potential trouble at the polls.
- Harassing & intimidating an elderly woman in her home – Abbott sent agents to the home of Fort Worth senior citizen Gloria Meeks. After being told that she could not come to the door because she was bathing, the agents refused to wait respectfully and walked around her house, peering through her bathroom window startling Ms. Meeks as she was getting out of her bath. The agents then forced Ms. Meeks to put on a bathrobe and submit to hostile questioning about her encouraging other senior citizens to vote. Abbott’s agents had no warrant, had no accusations of wrongdoing, and filed no charges. The entire effort was clearly designed to harass and intimidate Ms. Meeks. Fortunately, Ms. Meeks had the courage to make a statement documenting the harassment and later joined a lawsuit against Abbott. Her fight against Abbott was cited in Ms. Meeks’ funeral program as one of her proudest achievements.
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