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Why Texas Still Needs the Voting Rights Act

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

Map from Texas Legislative Council

Photo: , License: N/A



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Recently, in 2010 there were widespread reports of voter intimidation in black electoral districts in Harris County by the GOP-connected group True the Vote. In 2012 a federal court struck down redistricting plans and a proposed Voter ID law as being designed to disenfranchise minority voters.

Immediately following the Supreme Court’s crippling of the VRA, the Texas legislature moved to put the Voter ID law and redistricting map into practice.

Evidence today reveals that the GOP strategy of maintaining political power through voter suppression works. Texas currently has the lowest voter turnout in the country. Despite being a state where minority groups have outnumbered whites for a decade, the legislature is still two-thirds white.

The problem of voter suppression goes deeper than simply skewing election results and maintaining one party rule. Voting conveys citizenship. It implies the right to make demands of the state, to have one’s voice heard in more ways than through the electoral process. Limiting access to the vote takes this process in the opposite direction. Disenfranchisement directly communicates a lack of concern and interest in the disenfranchised group’s needs. More concretely, disenfranchisement leads to abuse on the part of the state and individuals against the disenfranchised.

It is hard not to see the connection between the continuing attack on voting rights in Texas and Governor Rick Perry’s brazen assault on women’s rights and moves to further militarize the border under the guise of immigration reform. In a country where citizenship means everything, not having the vote means not having even the simplest protections and rights. Refusal to actively protect equal access to the vote is decidedly less than democratic.

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