About that voter suppression

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the progressive moment’s push against voter ID laws, it’s that the rules in question have only one purpose… to suppress the vote and make it harder for people to make it to the polls. Despite the fairly obvious arguments from supporters who claim that they’d like to know if the people voting are actually who they say they are, activists – with the help of compliant judges – have been fairly successful in getting such laws shot down even when the voters approve them. Not so in Texas, however, where a few laws of this sort are now on the books. With that in mind, it should be short work to find out just how many millions of voters were robbed of their constitutional rights and kept away from the voting booth by evil conservatives, right? Writing at CNN earlier this week, PJ Media’s Bryan Preston stacks up the numbers.

According to the Texas secretary of state’s office, 10 amendments were up for vote in 2011, the last constitutional amendment election before the voter ID law passed. Some issues received more votes than others. The one most voted on received 690,052 votes, for and against. Overall, an average of about 672,874 Texans voted on these 10 constitutional amendments.

If voter ID suppressed votes, we should see a drop in turnout, right? Well, according to the Texas secretary of state’s office, nine amendments went up for vote in 2013. The amendment that attracted the most votes, Proposition One, attracted 1,144,844. The average number of votes cast in 2013 was 1,099,670.

So, in terms of raw votes, turnout in 2013 increased by about 63% over turnout in 2011 in comparable elections.

Beyond the state-wide numbers, Preston looks at some of the key districts where the alleged voter suppression should have had the biggest impact. These include Hidalgo County, on the Texas-Mexico border, which is listed as being 90% Hispanic by demographics. . The difference there between the 2011 and 2013 elections revealed a jump from roughly 4,000 votes in the constitutional amendment election to 16,000. Cameron County (85% Hispanic) also saw an increase in turnout from the 2011 to the 2013 elections.

As Preston says, if the intent of Texas Republicans was to hold down the vote, they are failing in spectacular fashion. In reality, the one factor which holds down the vote in this country is nothing more or less than voter apathy and lack of information / interest. If you want to fix a problem, you first must identify what the wrong is that you’re seeking to right. Low voter education and turnout is a problem which needs to be addressed, but trying to blame a well regulated system of ensuring proper, legal voter registration and identification at the polls is clearly not part of the solution.