With Texas standing as the last big Super Tuesday state undecided between Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, voters were still waiting in line to cast ballots more than three hours after the scheduled poll closing time.
Long wait times plagued the Lone Star State all day. Following a 2013 Supreme Court decision to nullify the “preclearance” practice put in place under the Voting Rights Act, at least 750 Texas polling sites have been shuttered. In the absence of advance federal review of the potential discriminatory effect of such decisions, some of the counties that saw the highest number of closures—including Dallas, Travis, and Harris counties—also have large Latino and Black populations. But without this essential component of the Voting Rights Act, it’s difficult to ascertain the effect these changes will have on communities of color.
Earlier in the day, locations in Bexar and Dallas counties were either not open or were holding inconsistent hours. Other locations continued to see discouragingly long wait times. In Harris County, the wait times—coupled with a shortage of voting machines—appeared to be disproportionately affecting people of color.
Fernando Miranda, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, waited in line for 90 minutes earlier in the day, only to be turned away from the polling place when he returned just after 7 p.m.
When placed within the context of racist gerrymandering and voter ID laws, it’s plain to see why the long lines are concerning advocates and observers. The Texas Civil Rights Project, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Election Protection initiative, and MOVE Texas have been encouraging voters to stay in line and report any instances of being turned away from polling sites.
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