Wikimedia Commons / Jay Phagan
A new research report
by the Leadership Conference Education Fund reveals that Texas topped the nation in shutting down polling sites since 2013 — something the civil-rights group warns is likely to disenfranchise voters.
According to the study, 750 Texas polling sites have closed since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requiring state and local governments with histories of discrimination to get federal approval before changing voting rules.
Indeed, Texas' total accounts for nearly half
of the total U.S. closures since the high court's 2013 decision. What's more, 14 Texas counties have removed 50% or more of their polling locations since then.
The report comes amid renewed concern from voting-rights groups that the Lone Star State hasn't shaken a long and shameful history of voter suppression
This summer, the state's top elections official resigned after a botched voter purge
that incorrectly targeted recently naturalized citizens. GOP lawmakers also championed bills during the last legislative session that would make voting more difficult, including one that would make it a state jail felony
to enter an error on a voter application.
"Moving or closing a polling place — particularly without notice or input from communities — disrupts our democracy," LCEF states in its report. "While there are justifiable reasons for closing polling places, the sheer scale of closures we’ve identified since [the Supreme Court decision], coupled with other, more nakedly racially discriminatory actions to deny voting rights to people of color, demand a response."
The response LCEF wants is for the feds to investigate the closures.
The group points out that losing a polling place in one's neighborhood can have real-life implications. It can mean the difference between walking to a polling place and being forced to take a bus across town, for example, or choosing between voting and picking a child up from school.
There was no decrease in Bexar County during the period covered in LCEF's report. However, that wasn't the case in adjacent counties. Medina shuttered six polling places, or 46% of its total, and Kendall closed seven polling sites, or 39% of its total. Fast-growing Comal actually added two sites, growing its total by 9%.
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