It’s Not Just Voter Suppression: Texas Republicans Want to Overturn Elections

Texas vote sign

Texas Republicans haven’t just bought into Donald Trump’s Big Lie about the last presidential election. They’re framing the even Bigger Lie that Trump and his cabal hope to tell about the next presidential election.

If they succeed, Republicans will be positioned to do in 2024 what they could not do in 2020: overturn an election.

Even before voters began to cast ballots that decided last year’s presidential race in favor of Democrat Joe Biden, Trump was saying, “The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.” Trump knew that wasn’t the case, and so did Republicans who echoed his claim. After four years of racism, xenophobia, scandal, and chaos, the president’s failed response to the coronavirus pandemic had sealed his fate. He was going to lose. The point of the talk about a “rigged” election was to prepare his supporters to refuse to accept the results, which Trump’s legal team planned to challenge in the courts, state legislatures, and Congress.

Trump was successful in getting gullible Republicans to embrace the Big Lie—53 percent of them now believe the former president actually won the 2020 election and is the legitimate leader of the country. But he and his lawyers were notably unsuccessful in getting judges—at the federal, state, and local levels—to overturn an election that the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency determined to have been “the most secure in American history.”

Dozens of judges rejected cases brought by Trump’s lawyers. Among the jurists who said no to the disgraced former president were Republican appointees to the federal bench and elected Republican judges in the states. Even jurists who it was feared would look for an avenue to support Trump’s claims refused to do so, to the immense frustration of Rudy Giuliani and the other lawyers for the ousted president. The judges followed the law, which has historically set a high bar for challenging election results.

But what if the law made it easier to mount such challenges? What if the law gave judges leeway to overturn elections based on partisan desires as opposed to proven facts?

That’s the prospect Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Republican legislators in the state have put on the table with their sweeping proposal to rewrite election laws in response to Trump’s ranting about voter fraud. The Texas legislation has gained considerable attention for voter suppression elements that are so draconian that US Representative Colin Allred (D-Tex.) says, “This isn’t legislation. It’s discrimination.” But there is more to the Republican agenda in Texas than the usual scheming to erect barriers to voter participation by Blacks, Hispanics, students, and others who might vote Democratic. What is especially jarring is a section of the plan to make it dramatically easier for a Texas judge to overturn an election result to which Republican “poll watchers”—or former presidents—object.

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