Super Tuesday fury as ‘thousands of voters’ in black and Latino neighbourhoods forced to queue for hours in Texas

Voting rights expert says long queues are part of Republican 'voter suppression' tactic for 2020

Conrad Duncan
Wednesday 04 March 2020 09:54
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Super Tuesday: Rachel Maddow denounces the difficulty of voting for many in Texas

Voters from predominantly black and Latino neighbourhoods were forced to wait for hours to cast their ballot in Texas on Super Tuesday after long lines were reported at some polling stations.

Election officials in the Houston area were forced to send in additional voting machines as thousands of people reportedly waited for up to five hours to vote at one station.

The long waits came after the closure of hundreds of polling stations across Texas by the Republican-led state government since 2012.

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow suggested voting difficulties had been caused in part by the “systematic” closing of stations in areas with high turnout for minority voters, poor people and young people.

“It is an outrage that it is this hard to cast a vote in this country,” Ms Maddow said on Tuesday night.

“I know it’s not only Texas but in Texas, specifically over successive electoral cycles over the past 10 years, the Republican-led government has made it harder and harder and harder to vote,” she added.

With 90 per cent of precincts reporting, Joe Biden was leading in Texas with 33.5 per cent of the vote, beating Bernie Sanders on 30 per cent.

The Texas Civil Rights Project, a non-profit legal organisation, said the long waits were part of a “predictable trend” in elections across Harris County, the county which contains Houston.

“Once again, black and brown voters in #HarrisCo are facing unacceptable wait times in their communities,” the group wrote on Twitter.

“We know that some voters have already given up and gone home. This is not the first time this has happened.”

In 2013, the US Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that forced jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices to seek approval before changing election rules.

Following that decision, Texas implemented a law requiring voters to present photo IDs at polling stations and began closing voting sites.

Ari Berman, the author of the voting rights book Give Us the Ballot, described the delays as "voter suppression" and warned there would be similar problems in the November presidential election if action is not taken.

“Four hour lines in Democratic & minority communities in Texas [are] a preview of voter suppression GOP planning for November,” Mr Berman said on Tuesday.

“Dems need to keep eyes on prize and develop strategy for combatting this, no matter who the nominee is.”

The issue of voter suppression is likely to be a major issue in the 2020 election, especially as Democrats hope to win Texas for the first time in decades with strong support from black and Latino voters.

Delays were also reported in Travis County, Texas, due to coronavirus after many election workers did not show up, with some citing fears of contracting the virus, according to the county clerk’s office.

The election office said it implemented emergency procedures, with elections staff and other employees filling in as poll workers.

Additional reporting by AP

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