Officials in Texas, the state with the second largest number of electoral college votes, have been closing polling stations in a move that will make it harder for people of colour to vote, according to a new report.
For more than four decades Texas has been solid-red Republican. The last time a Democrat held a statewide office was in the 1990s, and the last Democratic president to win there was Jimmy Carter.
In recent years, parts of the state, including the suburbs of cities such as Houston, have become more purple.
In 2018, Democrats won a number of House seats and Democrats believe they could perform well there in 2020.
Bernie Sanders, one of the Democratic frontrunners, recently claimed he would not only win the state’s primary, but that he would defeat Donald Trump in Texas in November.
Yet a report in the Guardian has revealed that Texas last year closed more polling stations than any other state, “making it more difficult for people to vote and arguably benefiting Republicans”.
It said research by University of Houston political scientists Jeronimo Cortina and Brandon Rottinghaus indicated people were less likely to vote if they had to travel further to do so, and the effect is disproportionately greater for some groups of voters, such as Latinos.
“The fact of the matter is that Texas is not a red state,” said Antonio Arellano of Jolt, a progressive Latino political organisation. “Texas is a nonvoting state.”
The newspaper said its own analysis based on that report confirmed what many feared and that places where black and Latino populations are growing the most, have seen the vast bulk of the state’s poll site closures.
Texas, which is one of the more than dozen states that vote in what has become to be known as Super Tuesday, is the second largest state both in terms of geography and population.
It also has the second highest largest number of presidential electoral college votes, 38, behind California with 55. California also votes on Super Tuesday.
“We have won the popular vote in Iowa, we won the New Hampshire primary, we won the Nevada caucus, and don’t tell anybody because these folks get very, very agitated and nervous,” Mr Sanders said last month in Houston after a landslide victory in Nevada.
“We’re gonna win here in Texas, and in November we’re gonna defeat Trump here in Texas.”
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