On Friday, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence sent a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Patton, urging him to join the many attorneys general who have made public statements reminding residents in their states that voter intimidation is a crime.
The letter asks Attorney General Patton to clarify to the public what constitutes as voter intimidation and say unreservedly that all forms of it are violations of federal and state law. There have been many reports of potential voter intimidation across the country in relation to this year’s elections, and the history of similar intimidation taking place in Texas during the 2018 midterm elections underscores the importance of Attorney General Paxton speaking out against these illegal activities. Longer lines at the polls due to COVID-19, as well as the proliferation of confrontational and disruptive demonstrations outside polling places—like those already seen in Virginia and North Carolina— means voters are even more susceptible to unlawful and threatening intimidation in the lead up to election day 2020.
“Texas voters need to know that they can go to the polls this year without confronting intimidation or fearing for their safety,” said Catherine Meza, Senior Counsel at the NAACP LDF. “We are calling on Attorney General Paxton to reassure Texas voters by unequivocally affirming that voter intimidation is a serious federal and state crime and that his office is ready to protect voters from any and all acts of intimidation. In doing so, he will be joining numerous other attorneys general who have made clear that voter intimidation will not be tolerated in their states.”
“As Election Day approaches, the potential for openly carried firearms at locations where votes are being cast or tallied creates a serious risk of disenfranchising Americans, particularly Black and Brown voters,” said Allison Anderman, Senior Counsel at Giffords Law Center. “It is critical that state and local officials overseeing the elections process take any and all necessary precautions to mitigate this risk. Giffords Law Center is proud to participate in this coordinated effort to inform states of their rights and obligations to protect the vote from armed voter intimidation.”
Read the letter here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.