From redistricting to voter ID, the Texas government and the federal government haven’t exactly seen eye-to-eye lately. There are more than 13 million registered voters in Texas, roughly 71 percent of the voting age population, however, there’s a fight brewing over exactly who can register the rest. At issue are a handful of components of current Texas law, from a pair of items passed during the last session to legislation dating to the mid-1980s. One element keeps third-party voter registration groups from working in more than one county. Another specifies only Texas residents can register voters. Other elements include legislation to keep registrars from being paid in relation to the number they sign up, from photocopying registration certificates and from mailing completed forms. Last week, a federal judge put those laws on hold with an injunction against the State of Texas. In his 94-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa of Galveston called the rules “more burdensome… than the vast majority, if not all, other states.”
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott replied Friday with a motion to stay, arguing an injunction would lead to confusion and possibly disenfranchise more voters if third party volunteers improperly handled registration. “I just think it’s another straw man,” said Dicky Grigg, an Austin attorney representing Voting for America, an organization that includes non-partisan voter registration organization Project Vote and a plaintiff in the original lawsuit against Texas.
Grigg characterizes the legislation as a whole as “sort of like a thousand small cuts,” designed to disenfranchise minority voters under the guise of preventing statistically rare voter fraud. “What they’re trying to do is to prevent the registration of minority voters. That’s basically the bottom line of what the legislature has done,” said Grigg. “Talking to the media they talk about voter fraud, but there wasn’t one piece of evidence of voter fraud put on before this judge because it doesn’t exist,” said Grigg. “It’s not a problem.”