How California's voter suppression, like in Texas, targets Latinos
2020 has seen voter suppression play-out in many forms. 20 days before an election, it’s not letting up.
At just 20 days before the general election, states like California, Texas, and Georgia, to name a few, aren’t even trying to veil voter suppression efforts. And while voter advocates are fighting back, in many cases, there won’t be enough time to mitigate the damage that has already been done.
Take this past weekend, for example.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and State Secretary Alex Padilla issued a cease-and-desist letter to Republican Party leaders on Monday, following reports that GOP officials set-up unofficial ballot boxes across Southern California.
The letter, issued to the Republican parties of Fresno, Orange County, and LA County, and its headquarters in Sacramento, accuses the GOP of using “false or misleading promotion of unauthorized and non-official vote by mail drop boxes.”
The boxes, “don't have a chain of custody and we don't have the requirements or regulations for these fake drop,” Padilla told CNN. In other words, there’s no telling where the ballots will end up, and if they’ll be counted since they’re not regulated by state and local administrations.
This also comes during a year when our President has been lauding the prevalence of voter fraud. Mail ballot fraud is rare, but for the GOP to partake in this sort of “illegal box” activity can be seen as hypocritical.
California State Law prohibits the use of such unauthorized drop boxes, as, among other things, they don’t comply with requirements in place.
The dropboxes are located in Clovis, Fresno County, Orange County, Freedoms Way Baptist Church in Los Angeles County, and Canyon Country Church in Los Angeles County.
In Clovis County, 44% of residents identify as Hispanic or Latino. In Orange County, 34.2% identify themselves as Hispanic or Latino.
At Freedoms Way Baptist Church, while just 28.1% Hispanic or Latino, over 70% of all voters in Castaic, CA, are registered Democrats.
“The California Republican Party, Fresno County Republican Party, Los Angeles County Republican Party, and Republican Party of Orange County must cease and desist the coordination, use, or false or misleading promotion of unauthorized and non-official vote by mail drop boxes,” wrote Becerra in a statement.
The unofficial boxes are against the law, and so Becerra went on to write that his office will do “all that’s necessary” to prevent tampering with the election.
Anyone who tampers with the vote is tampering with free and fair elections.
We will do all that's necessary under law to protect Californians' right to vote.
— Xavier Becerra (@AGBecerra) October 12, 2020
The California GOP has tried to defend these tactics, by equating the boxes with the practice of “ballot harvesting,” arguing that its boxes are akin to volunteers who collect ballots from voters.
Already, a number of these unofficial boxes have been removed, but it’s just one way of many that certain political organizations, like the California GOP, are attempting to suppress the vote.
In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott and his colleagues are doing everything in their power to make it harder for the public to vote.
On Oct. 2, he decreed that each of the state counties can only provide one mail-in drop-off location for the November election, regardless of size or population.
This order would directly put Texas Latinos at a disadvantage, as, for instance, Harris County with the second-largest Hispanic population in the nation, would only have one polling location.
Since Abbot’s decision, the Texas Attorney General filed an emergency appeal to halt the move, arguing it would put vulnerable voters at risk. The judge added that voters would run the additional risk of disenfranchisement “if the USPS is unable to deliver their ballots in time.”
Despite Abbott’s efforts, Harris County Judge, Lina Hidalgo reported the county surpassed the record for the first day of early voting.
“When you open the doors of government, people tome. To those trying to suppress the vote: Mess with Texas voters at your own peril,” she said.
It’s 2:07pm and we surpassed the record for the first day of early voting, EVER in Harris County. When you open the doors of government, people come. To those trying to suppress the vote: Mess with Texas voters at your own peril.
— Lina Hidalgo (@LinaHidalgoTX) October 13, 2020
Most recently, voter suppression was seen in Georgia, with unreasonably long lines to cast an early ballot. Knowing the pandemic is already poised to make voting difficult this cycle, voters who think they’re acting in responsibility, weeks ahead of time, found obstacles no matter what.
Early voting began in Georgia on Monday, with many voters reporting waits anywhere between two hours or more to cast a ballot, and it’s not happening everywhere.
Race, is one of the strongest predictors of how long a person waits in line to vote, reported NBC, referencing a 2019 study by the University of California, Los Angeles, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Chicago.
It found that residents of predominantly Black neighborhoods waited 29% longer to vote, and were 74% more likely to spend more than half an hour voting.
In all, nonwhite voters are far more likely to wait in line for over an hour.
Long voting lines, especially during a pandemic, should not be normalized. Inability to send and receive mail in a timely fashion, and illegal ballot boxes aren’t a normal occurrence, either. This is voter suppression at play.