Texas Republicans Might Be Inept at Voter Suppression

At first blush, the most recent Texas voter suppression law is working as intended.

Large numbers of vote by mail (VBM) applications have been rejected by local officials, especially in the state’s largest counties. Not surprisingly, these counties are Democratic strongholds—Harris (Houston), Travis (Austin), Bexar (San Antonio) and Dallas (you guessed it—Dallas).

The large number of rejections stem from an id requirement incorporated into that bill that was designed to protect against—wait for it—non-existent voter fraud.

Basically, the voter requesting a VBM ballot is supposed to put their Social Security or Driver’s License number on the VBM request. Local election officials are then required to match this number against the number on file in their original voter registration form.

The problems with new law are that voters are not made clearly aware of the matching that will be done and, at any rate, are highly unlikely to remember which number they included on their original voter registration form.

Aye yai yai! What is a voter to do?

Well, they could put both numbers on the form and cover either contingency. However, another problem clicks in because local election officials are subject to criminal penalty if they aid a voter in filling out VBM form, so this small suggestion may go unknown by a voter.

You might say that it is a mess.

However, the kicker is that Republicans may only hurt themselves with this requirement.

The back story is that Texas vote by mail laws already is among the most restrictive in the country. They only allow people who are over 65, disabled or absent from the county on election day to vote by mail.

The vast majority who chose the VBM option are those 65 and older. By and large, these older voters are more likely to vote Republican than Democratic. Hence, Republicans may see their VBM totals drop.

It is hard to regret that outcome. However, it will unnecessarily deprive that voter of their right to vote. Remember: there is very little fraud in American elections to justify these measures.      

Don’t Be Suckered by Trump’s Tweets

The New York Times had a recent article noting that our diplomats in Europe are warning governments wary of Trump not overreact to his tweets. America—and especially my fellow Democrats, progressives or liberals—needs to heed this warning. Today’s tweet by the Orange One about an arms race has yielded a bumper crop of overreactions.

The Washington Post editorial board already has posted an editorial warning about this threat. Meanwhile, Twitter chirps away with yet more hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing tweets about this latest storm and Facebook is rife with similar condemnatory posts. Even Trump’s advisors are playing their familiar role of walking back another burst of their boss’s regrettable statements. Predictably, progressive and liberal periodicals like Mother Jones, The Nation and The New Republic are also hurling thunderbolts at the POEUS.

Of course, there are many things we can object to about Trump. For example, we should be repelled about his appointment of a racist (Sessions); climate change deniers (several of them); Goldman Sachs alumni (again, several); and, climate change creators (in the person of Exxon’s Rex Tillerson). We can add to these his repugnant tilt to Putin; probable support of Assad; stirring of the Chinese pot; further inflammation of the Middle East; embrace of Israel; taxing and spending policies; intended repeal of Obamacare; possible action to reduce Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security; and, the list stretches on. Will it become infinite?

These are all substantive issues that we need to work on now. The tweet du jour which is just another in the round of tweets du jour is not a substantive issue. Yes, they do degrade our country. Yes, they will contribute to the deterioration of our role in the world. Yes, they do reflect the unstable mind at the helm and might scare the bejabbers out of us. If you are like me, you wake up early in the morning feeling that there is no way this ending will be good.

However, we need to put his tweets in their proper place as a blowhard doing what he does best. Instead of focusing on them, we need to focus on upcoming confirmations battles as well as subsequent fights over health care, taxes and the social safety net. So, instead of worrying about Trump’s early morning statements, we need to ask ourselves what steps we might take to counter his actions as opposed to his bloviations.