Editorial: Hilarity ensues on “Voter Fraud 9-1-1”

Column By John Young

Republicans in the Texas Senate have advanced a bill to post the Ten Commandments in all public classrooms.

It has a twist, however.

Under the bill, Commandment 8’s “thou shalt not bear false witness” will be amended with “except with elections lost by Donald Trump and attendant baseless claims of rampant voter fraud.”

The truth about the results of the 2020 election is undeniable. In Red State America, however, myths remain the lie of the land.

Greg Abbott was lying about it before he became Texas governor. As attorney general, he issued a slurry of adjectives to describe voting fraud in the state. He made it his mission to prove it an enormous problem, but Abbott came up with an embarrassingly minuscule number of cases.

Nonetheless, Republicans continue to pile on laws labeled “vote security” measures but which clearly and insidiously aim to tamp down non-Republican (read: nonwhite, below age 30) voters.

Making voting harder is simple survival for an inbred party led by extremists and fantasists.

No matter how many court rulings, grand jury determinations and defamation claims stack up, don’t expect the Texas Republican Party to disavow the plank in its 2022 platform that Joe Biden is “not legitimately elected.”

Hence, gun carnage underfunded schools, roads, waterways, and health care be damned. After Trump’s defeat, Republicans’ first stab at improving the quality of life in the Lone Star State, Texas Senate Bill 1, was a sweeping package of “election security” measures. Most were aimed at reversing the heroic things counties did to make it possible for more to vote in a pandemic.

One of the most indefensible things anyone has done on this matter is Abbott’s order that counties be limited to a single ballot drop box apiece.

This was an extreme hardship for Democrat-dominated Harris County (population 4.7 million), which has more people than almost half of the 50 states.

Republicans’ demonization of ballot dropboxes and voting by mail is a dead giveaway of a party that wants as little democracy as possible.

It was easy to see why Republicans were alarmed by the matchless success story in Harris County in the ’20 election.

With an ambitious effort to avail voting venues and the hiring of 11,000 voting workers, the county had the highest turnout – 66 percent – in 30 years, despite the pandemic.

And so, of course, at the first opportunity, Abbott and the next Texas Legislature, through Senate Bill 1, moved to prohibit things Harris County did to drive up turnout, like drive-through and 24-hour voting.

Republicans give no good reason as to why those things would corrupt elections. Doesn’t matter. Voter convenience is the enemy.

This session, the Texas Senate approved a measure to prohibit well-utilized countywide polling sites in 100 counties. Instead, it would require votes to be cast at individual precinct locations.

Why? Oh, why? Exasperated county election officials want to know. Well, sit on this answer: Because Republicans say so.

But the most ridiculous proposal, also approved by the state Senate, would create a unit of state-appointed “election marshals” to investigate voter fraud. This is patterned after the election police force created by that exemplar of democracy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis’s G-Men logged a whole 20 arrests in 2022 and pursued charges in almost none. Must have been a lot of dominoes played back at the substation.

But surely that will be different in Texas.

“Officer, I want to file a complaint of voter fraud.”

“What did you see, Ma’am?”

“That dark-skinned man. The one driving away. He just cast a vote. Are there Black men in these parts?”

“Might be a few, but it’s my sworn duty to investigate. He does appear to have a better ride than one would expect.”

“Yes, officer. Also, he placed his ballot in the drop box with his left hand, then used his right hand to start his vehicle. I find that suspicious.”

“We will pursue this matter, Ma’am. Texas is dedicated to rooting out vote fraud, which the governor says is rampant.”

“Could you spell your name, Ma’am?”

“K-A-R-E-N . . .”

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email him at jyoungcolumn@gmail.com

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author.