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Texas Republicans try (and fail) to justify long voting lines

"If you can wait in line for a covid test," the Texas GOP argued, "you can wait in line to vote." That's an unusually bad argument.

In May 2020, the Trump White House had launched an aggressive campaign against mail-in voting — despite the fact that members of the then-president's team personally cast ballots through the mail — even if that meant pushing for Americans to stand in long voting lines during a pandemic.

Kellyanne Conway, a prominent White House official, argued at the time that this was a justifiable position because she knew of some people who waited in lines for baked goods.

There were a great many problems with the argument, but one specific flaw was of particular interest: Conway didn't contest the fact that she and her party preferred an electoral system in which it was more difficult for Americans to participate in their own democracy. Officials could make it easier for voters to cast ballots, but Conway and her cohorts argued that those policies must be rejected.

A year and a half later, some Republicans are taking this same argument, and making it considerably worse. HuffPost noted:

You have to stand for something, but it appears the Republican Party of Texas is against COVID testing and short lines for voting. That's based on a trollish tweet the Texas GOP posted Friday that seemed to lambaste people who think it's possible to have easy access to voting and COVID-19 tests.

"If you can wait in line for a covid test," the Texas GOP argued on Friday, "you can wait in line to vote."

It's a baffling perspective. It's awful that so many Americans are struggling to get tested for Covid-19, but to see this as some kind of justification for long voting lines is incoherent.

Perhaps most important is the degree to which the state GOP conceded that Democrats are right. As we've discussed, Texas Republicans spent part of 2021 making it even harder to vote, banning drive-through voting, restricting voting by mail, banning voting in overnight hours, empowering partisan poll watchers, and restricting absentee voting.

Voting rights advocates accused GOP officials of having made voting more difficult on purpose, including the re-imposition of long voting lines. Texas Republicans could try to argue the opposite, challenging the premise, but instead they're conceding the point.

The party is skipping past the point of contention: Texas Republicans, by their own admission, are on board with long voting lines. This is a defensible position, they're arguing, because people are forced to endure other kinds of long lines.

This comes against a backdrop in which the Texas secretary of state's office said last week that it hasn't been able to find any meaningful problems with the state's 2020 presidential election — imagined irregularities that GOP policymakers used to justify the state's new voter-suppression policies.