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Greg Abbott’s voter suppression sideshow

Acting Texas Secretary of State David Whitley is being forced to rescind his discriminatory voter purge in a victory for voters, but he’s not the only problem.

Months after pushing a massive voter purge, Texas Secretary of State nominee David Whitley and Governor Greg Abbott are finally ending their voter suppression scheme (for now). Friday afternoon, news dropped that the state had settled a lawsuit claiming that the Republicans’voter purge effort was unlawful and wrongfully targeted naturalized citizens and communities of color.

The settlement agreement included provisions requiring that Abbott and Whitley rescind the voter purge advisory altogether, ensure that voters that were purged are rightfully back on the rolls, and pay $450,000 to plaintiffs to settle the case with our taxpayer money.

Texas never moves to settle cases like this. Why? Because doing so admits they were in the wrong – a fact many of us have known all along.

They were wrong to discriminate against our fellow Texans. They were wrong to attack the most sacred right to vote. They were wrong to think we wouldn’t notice.

And this isn’t the first time. In 2012, then-Attorney General Abbott was behind purging 68,000 voters whose names matched those of deceased Texans. Living voters received a letter in the mail letting them know that the state had reason to believe they were dead. Coincidently, the state settled a lawsuit about that voter purge as well.

This week’s settlement is just another chapter in the long playbook of Republicans stacking the deck against Texas voters. We see it in voter purges, dangerous elections bills, and David Whitley’s nomination for our top elections official. Republicans’ failed leadership has created an electoral process designed to reduce the number of eligible voters who cast their ballots.

Just last month, the Texas Civil Rights Project released a report that revealed how election administration issues negatively impacted hundreds of thousands of voters - more than the margin of victory in the last election. Also, a 2015 study showed that Texas' discriminatory voter ID law discouraged election turnout in November 2014.

Are you starting to see a trend? Yeah, us too. This effort is the same old Texas Republican tricks at work. Nip and tuck the voter rolls to cut out voters of color year after year, and hope they don’t get caught. Abbott and his cronies, including Whitley, are terrified of what might happen if every day people show up to vote.

Abbott is desperate to change the subject, to get you to stop talking about his voter suppression schemes, to push through his former aid Whitley’s nomination. All 12 Senate Democrats have previously announced their opposition to Whitley’s confirmation, and this settlement gives them further rise to hold the line and object to his confirmation. (For good measure, you should still probably reach out to them.)

I’m confident that following this settlement, we can put an end to Whitley’s chances of serving as our top election official but that is not enough. If we don’t remain vigilant, Abbott will be able to find another puppet to cast in his voter suppression show.

We have to say enough is enough.

We have to speak out for free and fair elections and support candidates up and down the ballot who genuinely value the sanctity of the right to vote.

 

Join us in calling on Senate Democrats to ensure they say NO to voter suppression and protect our voting rights!