The Lone Star State

A few years back, the State of Texas Visitors Bureau tried to attract visitors with the tagline, “Texas, it’s like a whole other country.” The state prides itself on its “independence” so much that at least once every two or three years some member of the Texas Legislature or Congressional Delegation brings up the idea of the state seceding from the U.S. It’s beyond silly, but at the very least, the state must keep up appearances that it’s unabashedly independent.

However, independence means to be of a mind or belief set that does not bow to one preference over the other, standing more on what is right for the situation and not what will serve best serve a prevailing interest. Independence requires many perspectives to exist so that the right decision for any given situation can be discovered, with consideration of the merits of both the popular and unpopular, but led by an internal compass.

On two separate occasions in 2019, the Texas Secretary of State’s office has spread information that it had good reason to believe was incomplete, which set off a firestorm in voters in counties all overall the state. The information? There were tens of thousands of voters on the rolls who might now be eligible to vote illegally. It just recently settled a suit, acknowledging that its claims were incorrect. 90,000 people, across the state, needlessly fearing their voting rights would be stripped and their respective counties forced to determine whether to use resources to investigate the Secretary of State’s claims.

During the voter registration surge in 2018, Texas experienced higher than normal requests for registration is several of its most populated counties. However, due to a lack of resources and staffing, quite a few registrations were delayed and with the state’s Voter ID policies, many were left uncertain whether or not their votes would be counted. So, when met with an influx of citizens ready to do their civic duty, only to be met with a system unable to accommodate.

Can a state really be considered “independent” if the same groups of people, traditionally aligned with one political party, continue to face roadblocks to enfranchisement, which is essential to citizenship? Texas is also known as the Lone Star State, which seems appropriate not because of its history as the nation’s only former republic, but because one party effectively writes and enforces the rules which determine who wins and who loses and that same party is doing everything possible to retain its power.

It seems there can only be one star in Texas and while it should be, that star isn’t the voter.

Cornell Woolridge is the founder and President of CivicSolve, LLC. He's been an active proponent of increasing access and lowering the barrier to civic engagement for even longer with his increasing involvement in numerous political campaigns, as well as down right boots on the ground protesting. He currently resides in Austin, Texas with his Wife Candace and their dog Jack; where he is continuing to expand CivicSolve's future projects and provide his own personal insight along the way.