3.3.20

Texas closes hundreds of polling sites, making it harder for minorities to vote

Guardian analysis finds that places where black and Latino population is growing by the largest numbers experienced the majority of closures and could benefit Republicans

Last year, Texas led the US south in an unenviable statistic: closing down the most polling stations, making it more difficult for people to vote and arguably benefiting Republicans.

A report by civil rights group The Leadership Conference Education Fund found that 750 polls had been closed statewide since 2012.

Some counties closed enough polling locations to violate Texas state law. Brazoria county, south of Houston, closed almost 60% of its polling locations between 2012 and 2018, causing it to fall below the statutory minimum, along with another county. In a statement, Brazoria county clerk Joyce Hudman said the closures were inadvertent, and that this would not happen again in 2020.


A Guardian analysis based on that report confirms what many activists have suspected: the places where the black and Latinx population is growing by the largest numbers have experienced the vast majority of the state’s poll site closures.

Republicans are closing polling stations in areas of high minority population growth.

Ask yourself a simple question. McLennan County, Texas, grew by an estimated 15,000 people between 2012 and 2018, “with more than two-thirds of that growth coming from Black and Latinx residents.” It’s the home of Waco and Baylor University.

Considering that population boom, why do you think the state closed 44 percent of the county’s polling places in that same time period?

The answer is obvious. Fewer polling places means longer travel times for voters and longer lines once they get there. This means fewer people in McLennan County will decide to go the polls and that more of them will grow impatient with the wait and leave without casting a ballot. It’s targeted voter suppression.

Counties with largest minority population growth saw 2.5M new residents and 542 closures. Whiter areas had just 34

Texas has closed 750 polling locations since 2012, the Leadership Conference Education Fund, a civil rights group, reported last year. The state had one polling place for every 4,000 residents in 2012, but that number rose to 7,700 residents by 2018. The Guardian's analysis found that the overwhelming majority of closures came in areas that saw the largest increase in black and Latino residents.

The 50 counties that saw the highest growth in black and Latino population had 542 polling sites close between 2012 and 2018, while the 50 counties with the lowest black and Latino population growth saw just 34 closures. The closures came despite the population in the top 50 counties rising by 2.5 million while the 50 counties that had just 34 closures saw their population fall by 13,000.

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