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Abbott Vetoes Bill that Would Expand Voting Access for Disabled People

Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) just vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have made voting by mail easier for people with disabilities. One might have thought that Abbott might have some sympathy for people with disabilities, since he was paralyzed below the waist when an oak tree fell on him after a storm when he was 26, and he has been using a wheelchair for the past 40 years. If so, one would be wrong.

The bill would allow voters with disabilities to receive an electronic ballot and mark their choices electronically. This would be of special value to blind voters, who could receive their ballot on a computer, have the computer read the ballot to them out loud, and help them mark it.

Katya Ehresman, the voting rights program manager for Common Cause Texas, said: "Greg Abbott either didn't read this bill closely enough to understand what it really does or is deliberately working to make it harder for Texans with disabilities to vote." Texas is one of the states where getting an absentee ballot is already very restricted, so the second possibility sounds plausible to us. Conservatives opposed the bill saying it could lead to election fraud, even though there is virtually no evidence of that.

Indeed, conservatives who say that are demonstrably operating in bad faith. There is an interstate organization called ERIC (Election Registration Information Center), that allows states to check if a voter is registered in another state. It is the primary tool election officials have to prevent people who have recently moved from voting in both their old state and their new state. In other words, it helps prevent election fraud, something Republicans say they are worried about. Recently, eight states with Republican secretaries of state have dropped out of ERIC. If they were genuinely interested in preventing election fraud, they would be ERIC's biggest supporters. Here is a map showing which states are in ERIC and which ones recently left it:

Members of the Election Registration Information Center;
the states that have departed recently are Iowa, Missouri, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia.

The reason eight states have dropped out of ERIC is that another part of its mission is helping unregistered voters register. This is the part Republicans don't like. Apparently their dislike of this part is so strong that it overrides their approval of the first part of ERIC's mission (preventing election fraud). Nothing ERIC does is partisan. It is just about helping eligible voters vote and stopping ineligible voters from voting. (V)

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