Texas GOP digs in after anger for likening Covid testing lines to in-person voting

Texas governor Greg Abbott is a vocal opponent of masks and other public health measures intended to slow the spread of Sars-CoV-2

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Friday 07 January 2022 22:56
Comments
<p>People line up for Covid-19 testing in Times Square on 4 January 2022, in New York City. </p>

People line up for Covid-19 testing in Times Square on 4 January 2022, in New York City.

The Republican Party of Texas is drawing anger and ridicule following a series of tweets mocking Democrats’ push to expand mail-in voting and rein in the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed more than 800,000 Americans.

On Friday, the state party’s official Twitter account posted a photo of Americans lining up to be tested for the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus with text suggesting that anyone who can “wait in line for hours for testing” can “vote in person”. The location of the photo appeared to be the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

In the months since President Joe Biden defeated former president Donald Trump in the 2020 election — largely on the strength of postal ballots returned from heavily Black cities in states such as Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — Republicans across the US have pushed to enact new voting restrictions in hopes of limiting the impact of high voter turnout in nonwhite areas.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, more than 440 separate bills restricting voting were introduced between 1 January and 7 December 2021. Most of those bills were introduced in response to Mr Trump’s sustained campaign of lies about the conduct of the last presidential election, which he still claims to have won.

Reaction to the bizarre tweet was swift, with top Democratic voting rights attorney Marc Elias condemning it as “so vile”.

“The GOP is an absolutely broken political party,” he added.

Former Texas representative and current gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke said the tweet “should embarrass” Texas governor Greg Abbott.

“76,000 Texans have died on your watch,” he wrote before also noting that a fifth of Texas health care workers have quit their jobs because Mr Abbott “abandoned them”.

“We don’t need memes, we need leaders committed to keeping Texans from dying,” he added.

Democratic National Committee chairman Jamie Harrison chimed in with a dig at Texas senator Ted Cruz by writing that the tweet was “from the same people who thought: ‘let’s sacrifice grandparents to Covid to save the economy and the best way to escape a winter storm is to take your family to Cancun while Texas citizens melt snow to flush toilets & freeze to death’”.

The Texas GOP staffer in charge of the site’s account mocked the widespread outrage in a subsequent tweet which noted that the previous missive “made the pronouns in bio people big mad”.

The party’s official account doubled down on the rhetoric a short time later when it posted yet another tweet which read: “Masks are dumb”.

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