Texas stumbles over its own voter suppression laws in new voter registration form snafu



WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 06:  Shenita Binns (3rd L) and her daughter Ysrael Binns (4th L) of Atlanta, Georgia, participate in a “Freedom Friday March” protest at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial August 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Activists continued to demonstrate for voting rights on the 56th anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act and urged the US Senate “to end the filibuster so we can pass legislation to solve the urgent crises confronting our nation, voting rights, DC statehood, and reparations.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It certainly says a lot that Texas continues to push voter suppression in the same week as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Owing to a paper shortage and a change in voter registration documents, it’s become that much harder for some of the most marginalized Texans to register to vote this year. The Texas Secretary of State’s office told NPR Austin affiliate KUT that voting rights groups are now restricted to just 1,000 to 2,000 voter registration forms per request. According to the president of the League of Women Voters of Texas, just one chapter of the group in Houston requires thousands more ballots, especially when it comes to registering new voters who have recently become naturalized citizens.

”The League in Houston registers about 30,000 new citizens every year through these ceremonies in the past,” Grace Chimene told KUT. Texas ranks in the top three percentage for naturalized citizens, with 69,400 naturalizations approved in Texas in 2021 alone. Though a registration form was previously more easily available to Texans, that form has changed due to the implementation of Texas’ strict new voting laws, which went into effect on Dec. 2. According to Assistant Secretary of State for Communications Sam Taylor, the form change was necessary because “the legislature decided to increase the penalty for illegal voter registration.” Taylor told KUT that illegal voter registration is now a class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. 


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