The Big Lie Meets Disabled Texans

The “Big Lie” of the 2020 general election is a gift that keeps on giving – over and over and over and over again.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that the election was one of the most secure, former President Trump and his supporters, both elected and run of the mill citizens, will not give up on perpetrating the willful lie that the election was rigged. Even after more than 60 court cases and recounts and audits, the lie won’t quit.

#45 and his attorneys filed a slew of petitions that they either weren’t able to provide the necessary evidence, downright admitted there was no fraud or even admitted the theory was a sham. I won’t go into placing the YouTube and C-Span videos in this post because it’s been covered endlessly. Besides, everyone can do their own due diligence and research for themselves.

When ALL the court cases reasonably failed to meet the basic standards of a winning case, Republican-led state houses took over the Big Lie. At the time of writing, there are 43 state legislatures that have begun ramming through the most concerted voter suppression laws since the Jim Crow era. As a matter of fact, this seems to be worse – especially in the State of Texas.

For purposes of this entry, I’ll focus on how Texas conservatives are using a trumped up argument about “voter integrity” as it relates to the disabled community.

The Texas Big Lie is called “Senate Bill 7.” Here’s a few things this bill does to strip the voting rights of this community:

New Additional Affirmation Required

SB 7 requires voters applying to vote by mail on the ground of disability to make a new affirmation on their application, “I am physically unable to enter a polling place without needing personal assistance or injuring my health.”

I believe this requirement potentially violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because Title II of the ADA prohibits state and local government from denying persons with disabilities equal participation in, or the benefits of their services, programs, and activities. (42 U.S.C. § 12132).

So by limiting the ballot by mail option for voter’s with disabilities to voters that are “physically unable to enter a polling place without needing personal assistance or injuring health,” the state could be denying ADA required accommodations of other voters.

Proof of Disability Required for Ballot by Mail

SB 7 requires voters with disabilities who want to vote by mail and apply for an annual ballot by mail to provide proof of their disability. A voter must present either a written documentation from the United States Social Security Administration or the United States Department of Veterans Affairs evidencing that the applicant has been determined to have a disability or a certificate of a licensed physician or chiropractor or accredited Christian Science practitioner.

Requiring written documentation regarding an individual’s disability potentially violates the ADA. Title II entities cannot offer a benefit that is unequal to those of people without disabilities. People without disabilities do not have to make an affirmation such as this one in order to vote.

Additionally, Title II prohibits entities from charging a surcharge for providing an auxiliary aid or service (e.g. vote by mail). Forcing a person to provide this written doctor’s note is tantamount to a surcharge or poll tax since the visit will cost the voters with disabilities money.

Poll Watcher Allowed to Electronically Record Assistance

SB 7 allows a partisan poll watcher to electronically record voters when the watcher “reasonably believes” the voter is unlawfully receiving assistance. Poll watchers are not required to take any training that would help them identify “unlawful” assistance. Creating new potential risks for individuals volunteering to provide assistance to voters, such as being video recorded, would have a chilling effect on the number of people willing to assist voters with disabilities and Texas voters with disabilities.

Curbside Voting

SB 7 mandates that only the curbside voter is allowed to be in a vehicle while they are voting unless someone is also qualified as an Assistor. The bill also requires the person “providing the voter with transportation to the polling place” to complete and sign a form that affirms “that the voter is physically unable to enter the polling place without personal assistance or likelihood of injuring the voter’s health”; and contains the driver’s name and address and whether the person is also serving as an assister to the voter.

Creating new requirements for individuals providing assistance to voters with disabilities, would have a chilling effect on the number of people willing to assist voters with disabilities and Texas voters with disabilities. Specifically, staff in State Supported Living Centers or ICFs and nursing homes may refuse to transport groups of residents to vote. Additionally, ride share drivers are not going to be willing to, exit their own vehicle to allow the person to vote and then sign the form on behalf of essentially a stranger.

New Form and Information Required from Assistors

SB 7 requires people who assist voters (other than election officers) to complete a new form that includes, “the manner in which the person assisted the voter,” “the reason the assistance was necessary;” and their relationship to the voter.

Aside from potentially violating the ADA and/or HIPPA, creating new requirements for individuals providing assistance to voters with disabilities, could have a chilling effect on the number of people willing to assist voters with disabilities and Texas voters with disabilities.

In my opinion, what makes this so much more worse for me is that Governor Abbott is a person with a disability himself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe any group of people are a monolith but at what point do we stop and say, “This guy is full of crap?!”

The Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House are all on board with this lie – and they know better. What Texas Trumplicans are nakedly showing is that if you are a person of color, poor or disabled, they don’t care about you period!

When can we wake up from this nightmare?!?!

This is not the time to sit idly by though. I encourage the readers of my blog to contact the members of the Senate State Affairs Committee. This cannot wait as the hearing is scheduled for Monday, March 22, 2021 at 9 a.m.

The members of the committee are:

Sen. Bryan Hughes, Chair
Sen. Brian Birdwell, Vice Chair
Sen. Donna Campbell
Sen. Bob Hall
Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr.
Sen. Jane Nelson
Sen. Beverly Powell
Sen. Charles Schwertner
Sen. Judith Zaffirini

It doesn’t matter, to me, who is listed above as a Republican or Democrat. Please contact them all to let them know Senate Bill 7 is anti-democracy!

Bloomberg‘s Apology Is Political Theater

I have scrutinized the “apology” of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the Stop and Frisk practice and frankly find it to be a sad, wretched act of political theater.

 

Suddenly, Mr. Bloomberg finds it in his heart to extend a half-assed apology when he was just endorsing the practice earlier this year?

 

I can’t speak to his way of thinking at the time.  In the early 2000s, there was a distinct mode of thinking when it came to combatting crime.  Since then, research has shown that the practice of Stop and Frisk devastatingly affected  people of color.  End of story…

 

This speech does not clear Mayor Bloomberg in light of his recent defense of the practice.  He should put his money where his mouth is and endow programs that engage in battle against the new Jim Crow policies of policing today.

 

As they say, “What have you done for me lately…”