Exactly how racist is Texas's voter integrity bill?

From watching Texas Senate Democrats' reaction to Texas's S.B. 1 (Senate Bill 1), you'd think it's Jim Crow on steroids.  As an election integrity measure, it's gotta be pure evil.  Election integrity bills like S.B. 1 are so racist that they pose "the greatest threat to the nation since the Civil War," says our president.

It must be so Jim Crow that Texas Senate Democrats had no choice but to break quorum and flee maskless on private jets.  Any means are necessary to prevent a vote and passage of this legislative monstrosity.  Upon arrival in D.C., these racial justice warriors rushed to microphones and began singing, "We Shall Overcome."

Our vice president calls them "courageous."  Media members echo her and vilify the Texas governor and his party and their voting integrity bill.

What exactly will S.B. 1 do (other than re-institute Jim Crow and threaten every racial equality gain since the Civil War)?  Let's see.

S.B. 1 will:

  • Ban paid ballot-harvesting.
  • Require ID for mail-in ballots and allow voters without driver's licenses to verify ID with the last four digits of their Social Security numbers.
  • Set uniform voting times for early voting while expanding weekend hours.
  • Help increase accountability by allowing watchers to observe election workers.
  • Strengthen the ban on unmonitored mail-in drop boxes and prohibit unsolicited distribution of mail-in ballot applications by public officials. 
  • Set uniform procedures for verifying the authenticity of mail-in ballots while allowing voters to correct mistakes.
  • Require those assisting voters to verify their identity and take an oath that they will not try to influence voters.
  • End the temporary emergency measures that were put in place solely because of the pandemic, such as drive-thru voting and 24-hour early voting.

Clearly, S.B. 1 is one radically racist election integrity bill.  Even though it will apply equally to all Texas voters, regardless of color or creed, it's deeply racist.  Requiring IDs and last fours is an assault on voters "of color," particularly black Americans.  It's Jim Crow, man.

What does this silly battle say about Texas Senate Democrats' assessment of their black constituents?  Do they think a significant portion don't have a driver's license?  Do they imagine that, left to their own devices, they can't procure a ballot or fill it out correctly or make it to a polling place?  Who are the racists here?

To thoughtful, fair-minded American voters, there are only two possibilities for why Texas Democrats — and Democrats nationwide — push the voter-integrity-laws-are-Jim-Crow-racist myth.

Either:

1. They hope that by hammering home this profoundly absurd notion through sheer repetition and sing-along theatrics, they can fool voters, which makes them seem deeply dishonest.

Or:

2. They actually believe the nonsensical myth (one that most voters don't believe) that voter integrity bills like S.B. 1 are profoundly racist, which makes them seem deeply delusional.

Democrat lawmakers in Texas aren't stupid.  Nor are they crazy.  In fact, they seem strategic and unified.  They want to secure power, and the most effective way to do so is by winning elections.  Freely and fairly?

For a party that seems guided by a movable moral compass, this is a fair question.

Meanwhile, Texas governor Greg Abbott threatens to arrest the runaway Democrats the moment they return to Texas and escort them back to the Senate building.  If they refuse to do their jobs or run away again, he says he'll just keep calling special sessions — even if he has to do so all the way to the 2022 midterms.

Apparently, it's unconstitutional and against Texas state law for lawmakers to run away from legislative fights.  If their cries of racism are motivated by political strategy, their tactics are unethical and may be criminal.  If this is the case, feigning a fight against "Jim Crow" voter suppression by pushing a threadbare false equivalency is Machiavellian propaganda.

On the other hand, if Texas Senate Democrats genuinely believe they're doing something courageous and needful, they're flirting with delusion.  In any case, comparing Texas S.B. 1 to Jim Crow–era laws is about as silly as comparing the January 6 riot to Pearl Harbor and 9/11.

Both comparisons are cynical and delusional.  They're also slaps in the faces of WWII veterans, firefighters, police officers, early responders, and genuine victims.

Texas Democrats: Do better.

Patrick graduated from the University of North Texas with a master's in journalism and advertising.  His undergraduate degree is in English and photography.  He lives in the Sierra Nevada of Northern California.

Image via Public Domain Pictures.

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