Respect Diversity + Inclusion

Long voting lines in Texas renew accusations of voter suppression

voters wait in a long line at a polling station in san antonio, texas

Story at a glance

  • Voters in Texas waited in line for hours on Super Tuesday as the state brought in extra voting machines.
  • Many of those long lines were in black or Latinx majority districts, where hundreds of polling stations have been closed since 2012.
  • Some accused the state of voter suppression, targeted towards minority communities.

The last voter at Texas Southern University (TSU), a historically black public college in Houston, left the booth after 2 a.m. on March 4, seven hours after he got in line on Super Tuesday. 

Many other black and Latinx Texans shared the same experience, and by the morning after the state’s primary elections, #VoterSuppression was trending on Twitter, with almost 20,000 tweets by 10 a.m.

Dozens of extra voting machines were sent to TSU and some other locations as lines in some precincts were estimated to be several hours long. While some, including Rogers, waited, others did not. 

The turnout wasn’t a surprise. In February, the Texas Democratic Party reported that early voting numbers had already surpassed those in 2016. Executive Director Manny Garcia said much of the increase was due to higher turnout within the party’s Latino and black base. 

“The Latino community is core to the Texas Democratic base, it’s a core to the entire state of Texas and it’s critical for any of the presidential nominees in order to receive delegates from this state,” Garcia told The Hill at the time. “When you begin to see Harris County, for example, which is bigger than 20-something states, performs at a high level, it’s because the Latino community and the African American community are turning out at high levels.”

Those districts are among those that have lost their polling stations. Across Texas, 750 polling stations had closed since 2012, meaning that voters have to travel farther to vote. Some polling stations were expected to serve more than 10,000 people. And a Guardian analysis found that the vast majority of the state’s poll site closures were in districts where the black and Latinx population is growing the most.

In particular, the 50 counties that gained the most Black and Latinx residents between 2012 and 2018 closed 542 polling sites, the analysis found. This is compared to just 34 closures in the 50 counties that have gained the fewest black and Latinx residents.The former saw a total population increase of 2.5 million people, compared to the latter’s decrease in population by more than 13,000.

On Twitter, users accused Texas of suppressing the minority vote. 

Voters from other states joined in, complaining about similarly long lines.