More than once, I’ve daydreamed about a better Texas Election Code. But it’s a fair question to ask me what part of the law I’d fix first. What aspect of the law most needs correcting?
Luckily, that question can be answered quickly and easily just by getting rid of the elements of the Election Code (in Section 63.0101, and the related sections). that have gotten the State of Texas in so much hot water – namely, the picture I.D. requirements for voter identification that were added in 2011. So that’s at the top of the list of things to fix.
But what else needs getting fixed?
The second thing on the list would be getting rid of the pointless restrictions on deputy voter registrars. Tex Elec. Code Section 13.031(e), and related sections including Section 13.047. The notion that volunteer deputy voter registrars are somehow suspiciously bad people is silly and paranoid – as I and others have repeatedly pointed out, scheming criminal masterminds usually try to hide their crimes, not openly advertise their wrongdoing in the public record.
Some parts of the Texas Election Code just stand out as products of ill-will and general nastiness. Other parts are just as much in need of reform, but are not as obvious.
One of the most glaring flaws in the Election Code, and one that has lingered for decades, is the crazy, backwards way that the political primaries are conducted and funded. Tex. Elec. Code Chapter 173. That sordid statutory stain stretches back to the bad old days of the “Whites Only” primaries and the quaintly restrictive notion that the parties could limit candidate access by forcing the candidates to pay all the expenses associated with conducting nominating elections. When Federal courts struck down Texas candidate fees as unconstitutional, the state reacted by curling up in the fetal position, cobbling together a wheezing, falling-apart mechanism of taxpayer reimbursement for primary expenses that is … um … unique (“unique” being a polite euphemism for “bizarre” and “frustratingly unwieldy.”)
So that’s my starting place for a better Election Code – begin by rolling back Chapters 13 and 63 to what they looked like before the Legislature decided to hate the voters, and then follow up with reforms to the funding of primary elections.