Thu, 04/14/2022 - 05:29

Harris County Democrats Raise Alarm About GOP-Proposed Voting Locations List

Republican Plan for May 24 Election Would ‘Disenfranchise Voters of Color,’ Says HCDP Chair

Houston – Planning for the May 24 Primary Runoff stalled again on Wednesday after the Harris County Republican Party shared their “preferred” list of polling locations for the election—a list that leaves out massive regions of the county, primarily where Black and brown people live.

“After refusing to negotiate with Democrats for three weeks to focus on frivolous and blatantly partisan lawsuits against the Elections Administrator, the Republicans finally produce a list, and that list is disturbingly racist,” said Rob Icsezen, Deputy Chair of the Harris County Democratic Party Primary Elections Committee.

“The Harris County GOP’s proposed list of polling locations, if adopted as presented, would be a violation of the Federal Voting Rights Act,” Icsezen said.

“This list of locations is a bad faith first step from Republicans in a process that should have started weeks ago. Democrats have been ready, willing, and able to work through the process for weeks. And our list of preferred polling locations demonstrates that we are at the table in good faith, ready to put partisanship on the shelf to ensure that all Harris County voters have access to their democracy. We are deeply troubled by the overtly racist list presented by Republicans today.”

Icsezen said the list prepared by the Democrats spreads polling locations evenly around the county. Contrasting this, a map of the GOP-recommended locations shows big gaps, mostly in communities of color. (See below.)

GOP-Proposed May 24 Voting Locations

This is an image of the full list of Republican “preferred” locations. Note the clear gaps on the south and northeast sides of the county.

Close Up of South Side Mapped Region of GOP Proposed Voting Locations List

This is a close-up image of the Republican list, showing the south side of Houston. Note, there are no locations in the triangle formed by 288/59 on the west, 45 on the east, and 610 on the south, and very few locations outside this triangle extending to the county border. This region is a densely populated part of the county, largely by communities of color.

Close Up of North Side Mapped Region of GOP Proposed Voting Locations List

Again, we see a close-up image of the Republican list, this time showing the north side of Houston. Note, there are few locations in the vast and densely populated region shown. And again, this region of the county is largely populated by communities of color.

Harris Democrats Proposed May 24 Voting Locations

Finally, we see the map of locations presented by the Harris County Democratic Party. The locations on this map are distributed equitably and take into account the interests of all Harris County voters.

“The GOP list clusters polling locations away from Black and brown neighborhoods, presumably as a strategy to keep Texas Republicans in office,” said HCDP Chair Odus Evbagharu. "This isn’t even a subtle attempt to disenfranchise voters of color. It is blatant, it is wrong, and we are calling it out.

“We believe every eligible voter should have equal access to the ballot box, and the current GOP proposal comes nowhere near to meeting that goal,” Evbagharu said.

Continued delays this late in the planning process could negatively impact voters.

“If the parties cannot agree, the worst-case scenario is we are forced to abandon countywide polling, which will cause mass confusion and may additionally cause a delay in our ability to hold the election on May 24,” Evbagharu said.

“In the best case, an agreement is reached, but then everyone must scramble to try to staff and equip the finalized locations—all because the Republicans have delayed the process and refused to work in good faith.”

“Let me be clear,” Evbagharu said, “The Harris County Democrats cannot—and will not—agree to a blatantly racist polling-location plan.”

“Everyone should be concerned that the Republican Party is working to squeeze out voters of color,” he said. “We are fighting these racist efforts because everyone should have a voice in our elections. That’s how democracy is supposed to work.”

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For Immediate Release
April 14, 2022
Contact:
Elisa Rochford
(832) 316-1865
elisa@harrisdemocrats.com