The Lone Star state’s motto is “friendship,” but Republicans there want to be left alone – at least when it comes to refugees.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has wasted no time in making the nation’s second-largest state the first to ban refugees from settling anywhere within its massive 268,000 square mile boundaries. (Only Alaska is bigger.)
Abbott, whose a strong supporter of President Donald Trump, is taking advantage of a Trump executive order that purports to allow states to refuse refugees the right to resettle. The Trump administration effectively lowered the number of refugees entering the country in 2019 to 30,000 – a 70 percent drop from Obama-era levels. The White House under the direction of top Trump advisor Stephen Miller, a white nationalist, is working to make that number even lower.
A federal judge this week “voiced skepticism,” The Wall Street Journal reports, if Trump’s executive order is legal.
PBS Newshour adds that governors in 42 states across the nation signaled they are willing to accept refugees.
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Texas GOP Asks State Supreme Court to Trash Over 117,000 Drive-Thru Votes
A Texas Republican legislator and three other GOP members have asked the state Supreme Court to throw out over 117,000 votes collected in drive-thru early voting centers in Harris County, a state Democratic stronghold.
The Republicans allege that the centers violate state laws requiring voters to submit their own ballots and that the expansion of drive-thru voting sites in Harris County “amounts to an illegal expansion of curbside voting,” according to Forbes.
Democrats believe that Texas has enough Democratic voters to possibly turn the state blue. As such, it’s no wonder that state Governor Greg Abbott got the state Supreme Court to approve of his last-minute plan to restrict drop-off ballot boxes to just one per county, regardless of each county’s size or population.
Democratic voters are largely expected to vote early and use drop-off voting to help avoid contracting COVID-19 at in-person polling places on Election Day.
Federal Judge Block Texas Governor’s Order to Remove Most of the State’s Ballot Drop Boxes
On Friday, Federal Judge Robert Pitman blocked Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s order to only provide one ballot dropbox per Texas county, a move that was largely criticized as a blatant attempt at voter disenfranchisement as an unprecedented number of Texans are expected to drop off their ballots rather than risk possible COVID-19 exposure by voting in-person at a polling station.
While Abbott said his order was intended to prevent voter fraud, something that is hardly a widespread problem, it also would have predominantly disadvantaged Democrats since larger counties with Democrat-leaning urban centers would’ve had fewer places to accept drop-off votes. More Democrats are expected to avoid in-person voting during the coming election.
In his decision, Pitman, District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, wrote, “By limiting ballot return centers to one per county, older and disabled voters living in Texas’s largest and most populous counties must travel further distances to more crowded ballot return centers where they would be at an increased risk of being infected by the coronavirus in order to exercise their right to vote and have it counted.”
Pitman said that Abbott didn’t prove that voter fraud is a legitimate issue for denying thousands of voters drop-off ballot access barely a month before the election.
While numerous polls show Republican President Donald Trump beating Democratic nominee Joe Biden in Texas by about 4.5 points, Democrats believe the state could turn blue if enough Democrats vote.
The Texas Republican Convention Was So Disastrous That They Have to Hold a Second One
After suing the city of Houston for the right to hold a 6,000-person convention in Harris County, the Texas county with the highest number of coronavirus cases, the Texas Republican Party decided against it and held their convention online. It was, to put it lightly, a disaster.
The disaster began before the convention even started with party leadership arguing online for four hours about how best to proceed.
“Walter West, a member of the party’s executive committee, swung a bottle of Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey toward his webcam” and warned his colleagues, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid,” according to Texas Monthly‘s write-up of the failed convention. West said the state party’s lawyers handling the lawsuit must either be stupid or under the control of party elites who didn’t want to hold a convention at all. After his Kool-Aid remark, the digital sergeant-at-arms booted him from the meeting.
The remaining members on the planning call floated such ideas as holding hold “the convention in an outdoor rodeo expo hall with dirt floors in Montgomery County, north of Houston. In mid-July. In triple-digit heat,” Texas Monthly writes.
Usually the convention is a moment for state delegates to vote on the state party platform and other intra-party matters as well as to hear from its leadership about the coming election. When the actual convention started, the livestream simply played three videos: one from Republican Governor Greg Abbott, one from Agriculture commissioner Sid Miller and another from railroad commissioner Ryan Sitton. Then, the same videos looped over and over again.
Eventually, James Dickey, the state party chairman, appeared on camera looking exhausted and said the convention was having “technical difficulties.” The software meant to ensure that only credentialed delegates could attend wasn’t working, so they canceled the rest of the convention for that day and the following day so they could get it in working order.
While the party’s convention committee began a Google document to figure out solutions to the mess, its URL was shared on the Zoom stream, so anyone could edit it. Some troll began drawing yellow lines all over the document and another added something to the Saturday schedule that read, “Peepeepoopoo.”
When the convention resumed on Saturday, delegates who had trouble getting credentialed were furious, thinking the technical error was some shadowy plot to silence them. For some reason, the videos from the first day began replaying at random and speeded up, “like the first flashes of a very boring acid trip,” Texas Monthly writes. So little business had been completed by Saturday night, that delegates realized that they’d have to stay up the entire night just to wrap up all the details.
After debating for hours, the exhausted delegates voted to end the convention and hold a second one, but when the delegates began nominating people to help plan it, the number of nominees ballooned from 1,200 to 2,600 to 5,000. Many of the names of possible candidates were duplicated, making a massive list that would need hours of organizing before anyone could vote on it. While trying to sort it all out, some party officials lost their internet connections and rushed to find new ways to reconnect.
By midnight, Dickey was exhausted and just recessed the rest of the convention. But before it was all over, party members voted him out as party chairman and replaced him with Allen West (no relation to Walter), “a former Iraq vet who was court-martialed for torturing a man that he suspected was a member of the Iraqi insurgency.” He’s now the state party leader.
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