The Mendoza Line: Texas GOP proposes bills to restrict voting while increasing gun ownership

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Rep. Tucker Sprayberry, R-Sanderson, demonstrates how his voting bill would work by blasting a hole through a sample ballot. - UNSPLASH / LOGAN WEAVER
  • UnSplash / LOGAN WEAVER
  • Rep. Tucker Sprayberry, R-Sanderson, demonstrates how his voting bill would work by blasting a hole through a sample ballot.
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Undeterred by recent mass shootings, Republican state legislators have filed bills that would require voters to mark their ballots with loaded guns.



The “ballots and bullets” initiatives would increase the number of gun owners in the state while making it even harder for Texans to participate in the political process, according to voting rights activists.

“This can't be constitutional,” MOVE Texas Executive Director Drew Galloway said. “I’m a progressive. Do you think I’ve ever held a handgun, much less fired one?”



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The bills were filed by State Rep. Tucker Sprayberry of Sanderson and State Sen. Shelby Lynne Lovejoy of Quinlan, both Republicans. Each bill is slightly different and would require reconciliation.

Sprayberry’s version brings back straight-ticket voting. Ballots would only be marked with the names of the parties — Republican, Democrat and whichever third party plans on siphoning votes. Voters would be provided one bullet at their local polling place/gun range to mark their choice. If they miss, they don’t get another chance.

“This is truly a hit-or-miss proposal, elegant in its simplicity” Sprayberry said. “It’s one and done, so folks better start heading for the range because once either of these bills pass, it’s a little more than a year until the mid-terms.”

Lovejoy’s measure would have voters complete their ballots by firing bullet holes next to the names of they candidates they wish to vote for. Her measure would only be used for elections on the state and federal level. Ballots too damaged to read clearly would be disqualified.

“This gives us the best of both worlds,” Lovejoy said. “People must have a gun to vote, which helps us have a well-armed citizenry, and that in turn makes my benefactors at the NRA happy. We’re also pretty sure we know how the GOP will come out in future elections once this law passes.”

Each bill has a provision to provide a gun at every polling place for those who don’t own a firearm or can’t afford one. Local law enforcement will provide a .22 caliber revolver recovered during an arrest or the officer providing security is instructed to offer the weapon they would normally drop after they shoot an unarmed suspect.

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