Texas Democrats launch site to make sure residents can still register to vote

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RegisterTexas.com allows voters to safely register to vote from home without having to risk their health during the pandemic.

The Texas Democratic Party on Tuesday announced a creative way to expand voting rights during the coronavirus crisis, a move that comes as Republicans in the state and around the country are attempting to make it harder to vote.

The party announced Tuesday that it had created RegisterTexas.com, a site on which voters can safely register to vote from home without having to risk their health during the coronavirus pandemic. The site automatically redirects to a page hosted by the party where Texans can check their voter registration status, update their registration, or begin the voter registration process.

Texas is one of several states that does not allow online voter registration, so the Texas Democratic Party came up with a workaround.

After Texans enter their information on the site, the party will mail them a pre-filled registration application along with a postage-paid envelope addressed to their registrar's office. "All the voter has to do is sign the pre-filled application and then put it in the mail," a party press release noted.

The site "is about inclusion and ensuring that every eligible Texan can access their constitutional right to register and vote safely," Luke Warford, the party's voter expansion director, said. It is a way to "fight back against Republican attempts to suppress the vote."

The site launch came less than a week after Texas' Republican attorney general tried to stop the state from making voting less dangerous.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Ken Paxton tried to deny voters the option of requesting an absentee ballot on the grounds that they feared contracting the coronavirus by voting in person. "Fear of contracting COVID-19 does not amount to a sickness or physical condition as required by the Legislature," Paxton wrote in a letter to state Rep. Stephanie Klick, who had requested information about the issue.

Paxton's office threatened possible "criminal sanctions" against any group that encouraged voters to request mail-in ballots due to coronavirus fears.

Later that same day, a Texas district court judge ruled that voters could request absentee ballots for elections in both July and November on the basis of fear of contracting the coronavirus.

Around the country, Republicans have tried to make it harder for citizens to vote during the pandemic.

In Missouri, Republican Gov. Mike Parson declared that the pandemic is not an adequate reason for residents to request absentee ballots. Rather than a health and safety issue, Parson dismissed the desire for safe voting options as "more a political issue than it is anything."

In Wisconsin, Republican lawmakers and conservative judges refused to postpone an April 7 election, overriding Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' attempts to do so. As a result, at least seven people in the state so far have contracted the coronavirus, including one election worker.

Donald Trump falsely claimed that "cheaters" vote by absentee ballot, even though he and his family have repeatedly voted by mail.

There is no evidence that absentee ballots are used by cheaters or are any less secure than in-person voting methods.

A Tuesday poll showed 58% of registered voters support a permanent rule allowing eligible voters to cast ballots by mail.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.