Friday, October 23, 2020

The Battle Begins: Early voting is heavy in first days of the 2020 election

By David Wilfong
NDG Contributing Writer

There’s a healthy chunk of time left before Election Day proper (Nov. 3), but with early voting underway the 2020 Election is happening now. Around the nation, voters are dealing with long lines and sometimes confusing instructions in order to make their voices heard. So far, numbers indicate this will be a high-turnout election.

While the professional prognosticators make their cases (with most leaning toward a Biden victory), the variables are too great in the current competition for either side to rest easy.
Changing demographics are part of a major question mark in the outcome of many swing states, and could be a factor in Texas as well.

“Compared with national figures, some states have seen even more significant declines in the share of the electorate for non-Hispanic whites without a college degree,” wrote Jeffrey Salzgeber in a release for the New American Economy. “Leading the way here are some key electoral states, such as Nevada (-9.1 percentage points), Florida (-7.6), Utah (-7.4), Minnesota (-7.2), Nebraska (-7.2), and Arizona (-7.1).

 

Voting has already begun in the long-awaited showdown between President Donald J. Trump (at left) and former Vice President Joe Biden (right). Dallas had more than 57,000 show up on the first day of early voting. (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr) (CC By-SA 2.0)

“Some of this shift is due to increasing shares of the electorate that identify as Hispanic or Asian. For example, in California, Nevada, Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Texas, the Hispanic share of the electorate increased by at least 4 percentage points, compared to the national average of 2.7 percentage points.”

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Salzgeber also noted the immigrant vote will be significant in some swing states. Overall, the immigrant vote in the U.S. rose by 1.5 percentage points; but key states saw much higher numbers, with New Jersey increasing by 3.4%.

In Texas, Latinos constitute the largest part of this new voting group. Hispanic organizations have been busy trying to maximize the input of their community through registration drives and get-out-the-vote public awareness events.

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“We need to get out like never before and take action if we want the voices of Juan and Maria to be heard,” said Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President and Dallas attorney. “We have been the political piñatas long enough. Now it’s time we decide for ourselves how we want to be counted and treated. Latinos have the numbers to show their power but only when we remind our leaders we’re here and when we go vote.”

Texas has shattered registration records according to numbers released by the Secretary of State. There has been a net increase of 1.3 million new voters in Texas since November 2018, and another 1.9 million since the last presidential election. Dallas County itself has seen an increase of 32,736 new registered voters since Sept. 1. Dallas also saw a large turnout on the first day of voting, with a reported 57,000 showing up to the polls.
With 3 million more votes being cast, as well as a continuing change in Texas demographics, Democrats have not given up on their long-held hopes of “Turning Texas Blue.”

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“Texas is the biggest battleground state because Texans are rising up and demanding change,” said Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Manny Garcia. “Texans are sick of Republicans who have failed at every level, want to repeal healthcare in the middle of a pandemic, are caught in scandal after scandal, and don’t have ideas or solutions to bring our economy back better.

“As one of the youngest and most diverse states in the country, the electorate in Texas has fundamentally shifted over the past few years. Turnout in the election is expected to break records and Texas Democrats have built a winning coalition of voters because we have earned the trust of Texans.

“This is our moment. We’re on the cusp of victory. This election is a coin flip and with the energy and movement Texas Democrats are feeling, we will win the election in November.”
The squabbling over votes has begun too.

A move by Texas Governor Gregg Abbott to limit mail-in hand delivery locations to one per county drew the ire of Texas Democrats. On Oct. 9, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman blocked the move, saying it placed an unreasonable burden on voters, especially those vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus. However, the block was overturned by the 5th U.S. District Court of Appeals, by a panel of three judges all appointed by President Donald J. Trump.

The GOP is also raising objections on how the election is being conducted, saying Democrats are up to shenanigans in trying to increase their vote totals.

On Monday night the Republican Party of Texas filed a lawsuit against a Harris County Clerk they claim is attempting to circumvent election laws in order to gain advantage for the Democratic side.

“Chris Hollins is telling all Harris County residents that they are eligible for curbside voting when he knows that is not the case,” the GOP said in a statement. “Any voter that does not qualify to vote curbside under narrow statutory language would be voting illegally if allowed to vote drive-through.

“The Texas Supreme Court has already held in the context of absentee ballots that a lack of immunity to and fear of COVID-19 is not a disability. It is simply a political maneuver by the Democrat partisan, Chris Hollins, to undermine electoral integrity.”

Election fairness, and security against outside threats, are such a concern in this particular election that Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sent a letter to Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) last month asking for a special committee to be formed on the national level to deal with election discrepancies.

“Nothing is more fundamental to our democracy than the integrity of our elections,” Senators Schumer and Sanders wrote. “Sadly, there are some who are systematically undermining public confidence in the voting process, and irresponsibly fanning suspicions and conspiracy theories about the legitimacy of election results.

“With the election less than two months away the Senate should immediately establish a special bipartisan committee, with equal representation from both parties,” the senators continued. “The function of that committee must be to hold hearings about what is being done around the country to make certain that our public institutions are prepared to conduct a smooth and reliable election which will be free from voter suppression and intimidation, that every vote will be counted and that there will be confidence in the ultimate outcome.”

For the politically motivated on both sides of the spectrum, the next few weeks could prove to be a bumpy ride.

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