This editorial started out to bestow praise on local Republicans, Democrats and other community groups for helping register voters in McLennan County. As of Tuesday, 146,223 folks were registered to vote locally in the general election, some 10,000 more than in the 2016 election. Unfortunately, midway through this journalistic exercise, the Republican Party of Texas offered further proof of right-wing radicalism afoot: Newly elected state party chairman Allen West led a group of zealots in filing suit against Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for extending the early voting period by six measly days to reassure voters legitimately worried about long lines at polling places during a pandemic. West and company also object to Abbott’s allowing voters who qualify to drop off mail-in ballots at the local election office throughout early voting rather than just on Election Day.
One wonders on whose side these cranks and contrarians count themselves. There’s Jim Graham, executive director of Texas Right to Life, providing further proof that this crowd considers the lives of the unborn sacred, other lives in a pandemic not so much. And there’s Julie McCarty, president of the resilient NE Tarrant Tea Party, which for us raises questions about a supposedly liberty-loving group that objects to expanding in-person early voting, given that in-person voting is what so many Republicans claim to favor over mail-in balloting (which has not been expanded in Texas). And there’s retired Lt. Col. West, carpetbagging Republican Party leader from Florida who last we saw was in Austin likening mask-wearing mandates to tyranny. He might consider how the governor’s expansion of early voting doesn’t even mandate mask-wearing. Quite a bunch.
“In a republic form of government with checks and balances built into our state constitution, one person should not have the sole authority of managing a disaster with no end in sight,” argues the suit, which demands that a special session of the Texas Legislature determine such electoral matters, even in a crisis. “Taxpayers have a constitutional right to be represented. After all, it is the locally elected officials that are left to deal with the monumental outcome. How can we hold the people we put in office responsible when they have zero responsibility in the matter?” Yet this crew has voiced no reservations about the governor’s taking charge whenever hurricanes threaten the Texas coast and during extensive mop-up afterward.
This sorry bunch including Texas Agriculture Commissioner and rodeo competitor Sid Miller is likely just spoiling for attention and figures one way to get it is to pattern itself after President Trump who, ironically, has had nothing but praise for Gov. Abbott during this crisis. We’ll side with the president on this one and quote Abbott from July: “By extending the early voting period and expanding the period in which mail-in ballots can be hand-delivered, Texans will have greater flexibility to cast their ballots while at the same time protecting themselves and others from COVID-19.” Seems rational to us.
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