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As Texas started early voting last week, reports of voter intimidation have come in from Dallas and other parts of the state.
Dallas county election director Toni Pippins-Poole said she has witnessed significant voter intimidation this year. In her decades with the county’s board of elections, she said she had never seen “this type of mentality or aggressiveness or demeaning type of actions.”
Some of the behaviors included name-calling and interrogating voters waiting in line, Pippins-Poole said. In a closely watched election race all over the state, the Dallas News Report said voters were harassed in Dallas, Mesquite, and Richardson counties.
In Mesquite, one partisan poll watcher allegedly looked over voters’ shoulders as they cast ballots and questioned them on their politics. Pippins-Poole says these types of voter harassment can especially affect young, first-time voters.
Texas law states that any electioneering activity—behavior designed to influence a person’s vote—cannot occur within 100 feet of a polling place.
The Texas Civil Rights Project posted video of a person yelling at voters, particularly women of color, as they waited in line to cast their ballot.
At the Richardson Civic Center in #DallasCo an individual has been harassing and yelling at voters as they wait in line, and women of color are being targeted for sexist harassment. pic.twitter.com/MhqsUMhLKp— Texas Civil Rights Project (@TXCivilRights) October 24, 2018
Despite the reports of intimidation, voter turnout will also likely be groundbreaking in Texas.
Ted Cruz’s Senate seat on the line in a state that has been represented by the GOP in Washington since 1993. But the midterm elections are polarizing voters, and early voting data reveals some of the state’s largest counties have doubled turnout since the 2014 midterms. Democrat Beto O’Rourke has mounted a fierce campaign, putting him surprisingly close to Cruz’s seat, though Cruz currently leads O’Rourke about 50-45 in recent polls.
Voters in Texas still have until the midterms on Nov. 6 to decide who to vote for. But if early voting behaviors are any indication, both Republicans and Democrats are rallying the troops in an unusually competitive election.
H/T Dallas News
Stéphanie Fillion is a French-Canadian journalist covering politics and foreign affairs in Montreal, Canada. She has worked for Radio-Canada in Vancouver and was a San Paolo fellow at La Stampa in Turin. In 2015, she won the Eu-Canada Young Journalist Award. She holds an M.A. in Journalism, Politics and Global Affairs from Columbia Journalism School and a B.A. in Comparative Politics, History and Italian Studies from McGill University. Her work appeared in outlets such as Quartz, Vice News, Ipolitics, and PassBlue.