State Sen. Middleton Addresses Criticism on New Voting Legislation

State Sen. Middleton Addresses Criticism on New Voting Legislation

Joshua Smith
Joshua Smith
May 8, 2023

Texas State Senator Mayes Middleton recently addressed the criticism stemming from new voting legislation in the state of Texas.

The bill states that “in a county of with a population of 2.7 million or more, the secretary of state shall order a new election if the secretary has good cause to believe that at least two percent of the total number of polling places in the county: (1)  ran out of usable ballots during voting hours; and (2) did not receive supplemental ballots under Section 51.008 for one or more hours after making a request for supplemental ballots to the authority responsible for distributing election supplies.”

Essentially, the bill allows for the secretary of state to call for a new election if there is a shortage of ballots, or if the ballots don’t arrive in time.

In an interview with News Nation, Sen. Middleton discussed the new bill.

“This is a really specific bill for a specific issue that we saw. Harris County is the largest county in the state, and we only saw one of our 254 counties have problems running out of paper at a number of polling locations in the 2022 election,” said Sen. Middleton.

According to the state senator, the problem is rooted in the system and could cause people to be “disenfranchised”.

“It was systemic. 121 polling locations. So...16% of polling locations in Harris County experienced paper balance shortages. Thousands of people were disenfranchised because of that,” stated the Republican congressman.

Middleton states that the new, controversial legislation is intended to “make sure” that participating voters who attend the polls get to exercise their ability to vote.

“What this bill does is it makes sure that doesn’t happen again and that everybody that shows up gets to vote.”

The Texas lawmaker stated that the governor does not have the ability to call for a new election.

“Well, it’s actually not the governor, it’s the secretary of state who’s our chief election officer, who was confirmed unanimously in the Texas Senate. All democrats and republicans voted to confirm Secretary of State Jane Nelson.”

Middleton stood by the bill, stating it was the proper course of action.

“This is a very prescribed remedy. Of course, we hope it never happens and we hope that they simply just deliver enough ballot paper. I mean it’s a really simple solution to this problem.”

One main reason for the state senator’s approval of the bill is the size of the county.

“Think about the magnitude of it. Harris County…would have more electoral college votes than 33 other states. So, this is a huge issue,” said Sen. Middleton.

The Texas representative brought attention to the locations with ballot paper shortages. In doing so, he speculated on the reasons behind the shortages.

“When you look at the number of polling locations that ran out of paper, a number of them are concentrated in Republican-leaning areas. You have to think there was a partisan design to this to deny ballot paper to particular areas in Harris.”

When reporter Dan Abrams contradicted the state senator’s argument by questioning his logic, Middleton responded saying that the use of the term “overturn” was not accurate.

“They call it a new election. Everybody gets to vote again because people were denied the ability to vote. So, I think the proper remedy when that happens, when it’s systemic, and people were denied the ability to vote, the right thing to do is call a new election and give them that opportunity to vote,” said the Texas lawmaker.

Middleton quoted numbers that he states are “evidence” of an improper lack of ballot paper.

“There is a lot of evidence. 121 out of 782, that’s 16% of polling locations. That is a lot. That is a huge problem.”

When asked if he would support a similar bill if a Democratic politician had the ability to overturn elections, Middleton stated that the bill was nonpartisan.

“The remedy doesn’t have any partisanship to it. You know, at the end of the day, you’re disenfranchised if you can’t vote because there’s no ballot paper. So, I think that’s why this is fair.”

The bill is also sponsored by 4 more Texas representatives including Reps. Paul Bettencourt, Charles Creighton, Joan Huffman and Lois Kolkhorst.

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Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith is a writer and recent graduate, majoring in English.

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