Judging from the record turnout during the first two weeks of early voting in Texas, a person who didn’t know better may think our state goes out of its way to make voting as easy as possible. That person, unfortunately, would be wrong.
Texans are voting early and in large numbers not because state leaders have made it easy, but in spite of the fact that state leaders have made it as difficult as they think they can get away with. As you may have read, a study conducted by three universities has concluded it is more difficult to vote in Texas than in any of the other 49 states, considering factors such as an early voting registration deadline, tight restrictions on mail-in voting and a photo ID requirement to counter the mostly fictitious threat of “voter fraud.”
Consequently, our rate of voter participation traditionally has been one of the lowest in the country, but that may be changing this year, and you can be part of the change.
Texans who value democracy are not intimidated. They are voting early and in record numbers because most of them, I hope, are determined to end our national nightmare and put a responsible, adult leader in the White House — and elect more pro-public education candidates to Congress and the Texas Legislature.
Gov. Greg Abbott extended the early voting period, a sensible move that cost him a lot of grief from the worst democracy-abusers in his own party, but otherwise he has enforced Texas’ hardline stance.
But there was one pro-election victory this week. The Texas Supreme Court upheld Harris County’s use of 10 drive-thru voting stations to ease voting congestion in the Houston area during the early voting period and on Election Day, Nov. 3. Anyone registered to vote in Harris County is eligible for this option. Find out where and how you can vote from your car here.
Despite the unnecessary restrictions, voting in a pandemic can be easily accomplished by most people. With a little patience and a few safeguards, such as wearing a mask and keeping your social distance, you should find the experience as safe as going to the grocery store, perhaps safer. The last day of early voting is this Friday, Oct. 30. That gives you five more days to vote early and avoid what may be even longer lines on Election Day.
So, grab your photo ID and your mask, take a few relatives and friends who haven’t voted yet and go Vote Education First. You will be doing yourself, your children, your students and a lot of other people a big service. And you will be strengthening our democracy.