Early voting is meant to enable more people to vote: Shift workers, for example, who cannot wait in line at a polling place on a Tuesday can still have a voice. Texas’s law turns that vote-enabling system into a vote-suppressing weapon. Republicans throughout the country have embraced voter suppression as a strategy for party survival, and this is one more sad example.
In Florida, Republicans have tried repeatedly to end early voting on state campuses. They also tried to circumscribe the reach of a law that allows former felons to vote, even after voters overwhelmingly approved the law in a referendum. Republicans in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee and Wisconsin have made voting difficult for students in various ways; Republicans often use voter identification laws to exclude student voters, rejecting forms of ID that college students are likely to have. Typically, the pretext is the need to block in-person voter fraud — a practically nonexistent problem in the United States.
Citizens are citizens, whether they are 18 or 88. All should be encouraged to vote. But year in, year out, even jurisdictions not run by people seeking to discourage voting have trouble keeping lines reasonable, equipment functional and the experience less than excruciating. As 171 George Mason University students who recently had their registrations rejected can tell you, as The Post reported, registering from a campus address can be particularly difficult.
States should be trying to fix such problems, starting with competent staff and convenient polling locations and hours, rather than removing opportunities for eligible voters. Congress should require states to register people automatically when local government authorities have the information needed to do so — DMV records, for example.
And the Republican Party should stake its future on offering policies and candidates that can attract voters — not on keeping potential voters away from the polls.