A CNN “analysis” by Stephen Collinson is perfectly scripted as a modern melodrama—with brave and determined Democrats fighting rascally Republicans over voting rights.
“They’re trying to save democracy by walking out on it,” he writes of Texas House Democrats, who fled the state to prevent a vote on election reforms.
He adds, “In effect, the fleeing Texas House Democrats are denying Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott a quorum in a special session he called partly to pass a new measure that critics say severely curtails access to voting, especially for Democratic and Black voters.”
Strangely enough, the CNN analysis failed to analyze the bill itself. Let’s be clear—nothing in Senate Bill 1 curtails access to voting in any way, shape or form. In fact, the bill would improve access, protect voters’ rights, add transparency and accountability in the voting process, and deter fraud.
The bill reins in rogue counties like Harris (where Houston is located) that sought to change the rules for voting with an election under way in 2020. It would implement consistent, uniform, and transparent voting procedures for all Texas counties. That’s it’s duty; the U.S. Constitution says that state legislatures determine the time, place and manner for voting—not counties and not cities.
The most substantive change to Texas voting would be the bill’s addition of voter ID measures for mail-in ballots—something that’s very popular with Texans. Nearly 90% of Texans say voters should have to show identification to vote. More than 80% believe in-person and mail-in ballots should have the same protections. Roughly the same number say mail-in ballots should include the voter’s driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number. And 89% of Texans say we should audit our voter lists regularly to ensure they only include eligible voters.
Democrats are citing two other provisions to support their claim that Republicans are aiming for voter suppression. Harris County allowed drive-through voting in 2020, as well as 24-hour voting. But neither of those were legal in the first place. Curbside voting for the disabled—at a secure polling place—is legal, however. And SB 1 retains it. If Democrats wish to add drive-through voting and 24-hour polling places, perhaps they should come home and submit bills to that effect.
It’s not about making it harder to vote. Americans already believe that voting is easy or very easy (94%), and more than 80% broadly support measures improving election security. Texans believe that these measures won’t make it harder to vote, just harder to cheat.
Yet Texans disapprove of the Democratic walkout. A full 54% of Texans oppose using procedural tactics, like denying quorum, to avoid voting. Just 27% support it. Ironically, many of the Democrats that fled Texas to kill legislation also support ending the filibuster in the U.S. Senate.
If those Democrats don’t come home and get back to work, other important bills will fail, as well—such as bail reform, property tax reduction and paychecks for retired teachers.
The fact is that too many Americans—and not just Republicans—have lost confidence in our election systems.
“For this republic to survive—for representative government to mean anything—all of its citizens must have complete confidence that their vote counts and that their voices matter,” U.S. Congressman Chip Roy wrote recently. “Our country simply cannot allow the kind of disaster we have seen these last few months to ever happen again.”
What’s not helpful in this effort is an “analysis” like CNN’s—which paints a misleading picture of important election reforms. Those in the media must stop relying on “critics say,” and start reading the bills themselves. They might just learn that common-sense election reforms will strengthen our nation, not bring it to “the edge of meltdown,” as CNN so dramatically put it.