Election

Texas Ranks Fifth Most Difficult State to Cast a Vote In, Says New Study

The study says Texas fell one slot in the ranking since 2020.
The study says Texas fell one slot in the ranking since 2020. Getty Images
When it comes to ease of voting, Texas clocks in at No. 46 of all the states nationwide, according to a new study.

Published in the Election Law Journal, an academic journal, the study found that only that only four other states made it more difficult than Texas does to cast a ballot.

Dubbed the “Cost of Voting Index 2022,” that study says the states that outdid Texas when it comes to voting restrictions are Arkansas, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

Since the November 2020 presidential elections, most states around the country have introduced and passed a slew of laws related to voting.

While many states have passed legislation that makes it easier to vote, Texas is one of 11 that introduced laws last year that only make it yet more difficult, according to the Election Law Journal study. (Eight other states passed bills that introduced both restrictions and eased access to voting in certain cases.)

Ahead of the 2021 legislative session, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made what he called “election integrity” an emergency item. Among the restrictive bills the governor signed into law was Senate Bill 1, which sparked condemnation from advocacy groups and watchdogs who said it would effectively lead to voter suppression.

The governor’s press office didn’t reply to the Observer’s request for comment. In the past, Abbott defended new voting laws against criticism, even claiming in a press release that SB 1 “ensures trust and confidence in our elections system — and most importantly, it makes it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

In a recent analysis of primary voting data from March, the Brennan Center for Justice said SB 1, which limited how and when someone can apply for a mail-in ballot or vote by mail, had led to widespread “racial disparities” at the ballot box.

"You didn't need a crystal ball to know that widespread disenfranchisement of Texans of color would result as a consequence of SB 1." – Rose Clouston, Texas Democratic Party

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"You didn't need a crystal ball to know that widespread disenfranchisement of Texans of color would result as a consequence of SB 1," Rose Clouston, Texas Democratic Party's director of voter protection, told the Observer by email.

But the Cost of Voting Index 2022 said SB 1 has yet to make much of an impact, and Texas dropped only one slot from 2020, when it was ranked No. 45. (The study conceded that Texas "did not have a lot of room to fall.")

“Specifically, the state banned practices that made it easier to vote in 2020 in response to the global pandemic, such as drive-thru voting and 24-hour voting,” the study explains.

“However, as best as we can tell, there was no intention to make the 2020 provisions permanent, so banning them is curious,” it adds. “Importantly, the changes will limit the state's ability to respond to another health crisis. Moreover, voting still is not easy in Texas.”

In the study, Texas fared better than Arkansas, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Wisconsin “because it provides citizens a full 13 days of early voting.”

With midterm elections set to take place on Nov. 8, early voting kicked off Monday and will last until Nov. 4. According to the Secretary of State's office, voters will make their picks for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, all 38 U.S. representatives, state senators and 150 state representatives, among others. 
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Patrick Strickland is the former news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's worked as a senior reporter at Al Jazeera English. His reporting has appeared in the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.

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