Far be it from us to be cynical, however that will assist clarify a proclamation launched by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) on Thursday. At its coronary heart, the order will mandate that counties scale back the variety of places the place voters can drop off ballots to no multiple, ostensibly in an effort to foster an “enhanced poll safety protocol.” In different phrases, to fight purported voter fraud.
Common Submit readers will perceive each that such “enhancements” are pointless, given each the rarity of voter fraud and the breadth of measures already in place geared toward eliminating unlawful voting. Common readers will even assume that Abbott’s transfer is the most recent in a long-standing sample of citing alleged and unproven considerations about fraud as a rationale for limiting the power to vote in a means that disproportionately impacts Democratic voters.
As Abbott’s proclamation clearly would.
Contemplate two metrics: the density of White voters in a county and the margin of the county’s presidential vote in 2016. Most counties in Texas have extra White than non-White residents; most counties additionally voted for Trump in 2016 by a large margin.
But the counties that are much less densely White and which have been much less fervently supportive of Trump are additionally those the place the inhabitants per drop-off location is on common the best. In counties which might be solely about 30 % White, for instance, the inhabitants is, on common, 722,000. In counties which Trump misplaced by about 30 factors, the typical inhabitants tops 1 million. Counties he gained by 30 factors, although, have a mean inhabitants of 69,000.
That very same sample holds when trying solely on the voters within the counties. Much less densely White counties — counties that are subsequently extra prone to vote extra closely Democratic — have much more voters who could be competing to show in ballots at that single drop-off location than do counties that are extra densely White or which voted extra closely for Trump in 2016.
What’s extra, counties which might be whiter and voted extra closely for Trump are additionally smaller on common, that means that the proximity of the only drop-off location will seemingly be nearer than for much less White and fewer Trump-friendly locations.
Total, the sample is constant. There are extra counties that are majority White, which seemingly have extra presently registered Republicans than Democrats (based on information from L2, a political information agency) and which backed Trump in 2016.
But it surely’s the counties that are majority-minority, which in all probability have extra registered Democrats than Republicans and which voted for Hillary Clinton 4 years in the past the place the populations are bigger on common, the place the variety of voters per drop-off location could be increased and the place the counties are extra expansive.
It’s arduous to think about that that is an accident. The Texas Democratic Celebration doesn’t appear to suppose it’s; it reportedly plans to sue to cease Abbott’s order from being applied.
Contemplate what Abbott’s change means for Houston’s Harris County, the place there are presently 12 drop-off sites. There may be now one drop-off website for each 190,000 voters, a determine which balloons to at least one for each 2.three million voters ought to Abbott’s order go into power. There’s one drop-off location for each 142 sq. miles of the county, on common.
That 190,000-voter determine is about equal to the variety of voters in Bell County. That 142 sq. miles is a bit lower than the dimensions of Rockwall County. Proper now, then, it’s about as straightforward to drop off a poll in Harris County — which backed Clinton by 12 factors in 2016 — as it is going to be following Abbott’s order in two counties which backed Trump by 15 and 47 factors respectively.
The order would make that considerably more durable.
Lenny Bronner contributed to this report.