Keyword: Voting by mail
Attitudes Toward Democracy are Underwater in Texas: Some Takeaways from Results on Voting and Expectations for the 2020 Election
The COVID-19 pandemic led to local elections and run-offs some local officials postponing elections in the spring and early summer. By emergency proclamation, Governor Greg Abbott expanded the period of early voting and loosened some of the rules regulating the in-person submission of mail-in ballots, even as he and the attorney general waged political and legal counter-offensives against efforts by local officials, voting rights groups, and Democrats in various configurations to ease access to the ballot box during the pandemic. As part of this political zig-zagging, the governor, in a subsequent proclamation, limited the number of in-person, mail-in ballot drop-off locations to one per county. Despite Abbott’s refusal to expand voting by mail, as many advocated during the height of the pandemic, the new Chairman of the state Republican Party, Allen West, joined efforts by Republicans to sue the governor over his expansion of the early voting period. Both parties also maneuvered to get their third party rivals removed from the ballot. This list isn’t even comprehensive, nor have we made mention of the widely chronicled and vehement aspersions Donald Trump continues to cast on the integrity of the election process as his national and state poll numbers erode.
With all of this as context (and great interest and high expectations that the results would be interesting), we designed a battery of questions for the October 2020 University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll probing Texans’ attitudes about the conduct of the elections in Texas and their expectations of the process in 2020. The results don’t disappoint in terms of their interest, but it’s appropriate that we greet them with Halloween on the horizon. They are grim and even scary.
Governor Abbott reiterated benchmarks for suppressing COVID-19 in Texas, and kept the bars closed which is likely to be very unevenly received among some of his constituents, though a majority likely remains on board with the overall effort. New numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released sobering data that buttresses Abbott’s cause among the rationally minded. The Texas Black Legislative Caucus unveiled a legislative plan under the title of the George Floyd Act that would introduce some state-level policing reforms, while Donald Trump was admitting pursuing his own checks on some another uniformed public servants, the US Postal Service, in order to impede voting by mail. And there was big news about fall plans for those interested in college football – and public health. Read on for data and discussion related to these happenings from the week in politics.
President Donald Trump’s assertion via Twitter that “Universal Mail-In Voting” will make 2020 “the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT ELECTION in history” was certainly well-received in corners of the Texas Republican Party that Trump needs to mobilize to remain competitive in November. He has Republican allies in state government that have succeeded in blocking the expansion of voting by mail in the courts, and voters who support such efforts: In the June 2020 Texas Politics Project poll, 72% of Texas Republicans opposed allowing all Texans to vote by mail in response to the pandemic; only 21% of Texas Republicans favored it, with only 7% on the fence. But skepticism of elections runs much deeper, and predates Trump's presidency.