The Texas GOP has adopted a new platform that’s generating headlines for its open discussion of secession from the union. But the platform also exposes how that “election integrity” scam really functions. In so doing, it lays bare some ugly truths about how radical the abandonment of democracy among some Republicans has truly become.
The new platform, which thousands of GOP activists in Texas agreed to at the state party convention over the weekend, is a veritable piñata bursting with far-right extremist fantasies. It states that Texas retains the right to secede from the United States and urges the Texas legislature to reaffirm this.
It describes homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice.” It flatly declares that no validation of transgender identity is legitimate. It dismisses all gun regulations as a violation of “God given rights,” and sharply rebukes Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) for pursuing a bipartisan gun safety package that’s extraordinarily modest.
But the document may be most revealing in its treatment of voting and democracy. It declares President Biden was “not legitimately elected” in 2020. It says Biden’s win was tainted by voting in swing state cities, furthering a GOP trend toward more explicitly declaring votes in urban centers illegitimate.
It urgently warns that Republicans must vote in high numbers in 2022 to “overwhelm any possible fraud.” And notably, it calls for repeal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
It’s interesting that the Texas GOP is warning against more voter fraud to come while also calling for the state to have maximal authority to impose ever more onerous restrictions on voting, which is the apparent aim of repealing VRA.
You may recall that Texas recently passed one of the nation’s most restrictive voting laws. It barred election officials from sending voters unsolicited vote-by-mail applications, created new hurdles to getting absentee ballots approved and went out of its way to target a populous Democratic county by outlawing measures it had taken to make voting easier.
This, too, was justified in the name of “election integrity.” And that law subsequently resulted in an enormous spike in rejections of absentee ballots in recent 2022 primaries. The New York Times found that most of these rejections were rooted in routine mistakes made by voters.
Yet, oddly enough, Texas Republicans still do not appear reassured about the “integrity” of their elections. They’re still warning of impending fraud. They’re still claiming voting in urban centers should raise heightened suspicions. And they want radically expanded legislative authority to impose further restrictions, even (or perhaps especially?) if they fall disproportionately on minorities.
After all, that’s the obvious goal of repealing the VRA. Repeal would do away with the law’s prohibition on state voting rules that deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race or color.
While the Constitution also prohibits abridgment of that right, the VRA directly codified protections against rules that have a discriminatory impact. Though the Supreme Court has weakened these protections, it still exists in law, and repealing it would be extreme indeed.
“The aim of repealing the Voting Rights Act would be to make it even easier for the state of Texas to pass repressive voting laws,” election law expert Richard L. Hasen told me. “In one important example, repealing the VRA would eliminate the ban on literacy tests.”
It might be worth asking Texas Republicans whether they think it would be legitimate, or perhaps even desirable, to reimpose literacy tests in the future. Standing for repeal of the VRA, Hasen said, is “incredibly radical.”
Indeed, Hasen notes that the VRA originally passed and was reauthorized with broad bipartisan support, and GOP leadership in Congress was critical in helping get it done. In that context, said Hasen, this new shift shows a “real deterioration in the position of the Republican Party.”
All this should also illustrate what an epic scam it is when Republicans claim restrictions on voting are necessary to ensure “confidence” in “election integrity.” A Post analysis found that dozens of GOP candidates across the country who cite “election integrity” as a key goal also happen to be the ones lying that the 2020 election was stolen. What a spectacular coincidence!
This is particularly pronounced in Texas. Republicans already passed a law overflowing with such restrictions, yet they’re still hyping invented voter fraud, a move that’s designed to continue undermining people’s faith in elections.
“The more you talk about the false scourge of voter fraud, the more you undermine people’s confidence,” Hasen said.
That undermined confidence can then be invoked to justify still more restrictions on voting, in a kind of self-reinforcing, ever-escalating feedback loop. Funny how this works, isn’t it?