It’s August 30th in Houston. We’re mucking out homes, provisioning families with everything they need since everything they had is done, repairing roofs, restocking shelves, and wondering how on earth we’re going to recover from Hurricane Harvey.
But it’s only about 7 weeks until early voting starts for this November’s elections.
It’s not too early to talk about politics. What’s going on is in many ways directly related to politics.
Now is Harris County Clerk’s time to decide whether to be a hero or a villain.
On the one hand, County Clerk Stan Stanart could be a hero and put in place the procedures and equipment necessary for people registered to vote in Harris County to vote at any precinct or early voting-style polling location on Election Day.
He should also extend early voting hours to the maximum number allowed by law.
After all, this election will have very low turn-out for some very high-stakes positions on the Houston ISD Board of Trustees.
Thousands of people are displaced from their homes, having left without critical papers they may need to re-establish themselves. They could be living in friends’ rooms, apartments, hotels, or (let’s hope not but worst case scenario) shelters or FEMA trailers by the time it is voting time.
The place they usually vote might not even BE there come election day.
With a crisis of this magnitude, Stanart & his office should do whatever it takes to make it easy for people to vote in whatever part of town they find themselves in come election day. The early voting options we already have are not enough.
The law is written so he can authorize changes like these. He can check in with his colleagues in Travis County for guidance.
On the other hand, #FireStanStanart is a perennial hashtag for a reason.
The long lines, the machines that don’t work first thing in the morning, the polling sites changing last minute … this isn’t ineptitude, it’s intentional, and designed to suppress votes.
The clerk can prove me wrong if he wishes by following my advice and making it easier for people to vote.
The leaders of our great city and county should call on Clerk Stanart to be as generous with his access to democracy’s sacred duty, voting, as the rest of us have been toward our storm-tossed neighbors. Harris County voters should demand it as well.