Thursday, Texas officials have an opportunity to change course and prove we’re a state that means it when we talk about protecting liberty and democracy.
Texas can and should comply with a federal judge’s deadline to submit a plan for allowing Texans to register to vote when they renew or obtain driver licenses online.
That’s just the right thing to do. Why wouldn’t we want to make it as easy as possible for qualified Texans to become part of our election process?
Yes, you can quickly register to vote when you update or apply for a driver license in person.
But U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled last month that Texas is in violation of the “motor voter’ provision of the National Voter Registration Act by not allowing the same thing to happen online.
This lawsuit dates back two years to when the Texas Civil Rights Project legally challenged the lack of online registration on behalf of some would-be voters. They said they thought they had registered online, but later learned they hadn’t, so they couldn’t take part in elections.
“What is very clear is that the Secretary of State and the Department of Public Safety have known about this problem since 2010,” said Mimi Marziani, president of the Civil Rights Project. “Thousands of Texans have complained they thought they were registered to vote but weren’t.”
Marziani said that currently the state makes it so difficult for people wanting to register online that they get confused or give up. If they press “yes” when they’re asked about signing up to vote they’re sent to another page with a form. They’re told to print the form, fill it out and mail it to their county registrar.
If you’re a busy person, or using a computer not tied to a printer, there’s a good chance you’ll give up — if you’ve even gotten that far.
So we're not happy to hear that a spokesman for the Texas Attorney General has hinted that the state is going to appeal Judge Garcia’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
“The Fifth Circuit will not give merit to such judicial activism because Texas voter registration is consistent with federal voter laws," Marc Rylander told the Texas Tribune
That’s more than just a waste of time and taxpayer money. It’s cheating the people of Texas. And it sounds a lot like voter suppression.
The goal of Civil Rights Project lawyers is to have this settled as quickly as possible so potential voters can more easily register before midterm elections in November.
They’ll ask the state to have a quick, easy-to-use online system up and running within 45 days. No more shuttling from site to site, printing and mailing in forms via snail mail.
How can logical people be against that, unless they don’t want more voters in Texas?
Making sure this kind of obstructionist behavior ends is a big reason Texans need to vote.