Other Voices: What Texas editors are saying

Tragic, but correct

The Dallas Morning News

No one wants to see someone killed in a hail of gunfire, especially not in the driveway of the person’s grandmother. So when 27-year-old Schaston Hodge was shot and killed by Texas Department of Safety troopers Aug. 17, questions were immediately raised about what happened and why. And the fact that the shooting came at a time some were raising objections to the troopers being involved in a drive to stem a crime wave this past summer gave us all the makings of a very tense moment for Dallas.

But now video evidence has been released that we hope will help shape our community’s thinking and understanding of the work our men and women in uniform are asked to do on a daily basis. The video includes footage from a dashboard camera as well as footage from the body cameras that both troopers wore.

What it shows is the following: Moments after finishing a routine stop, troopers Joshua Engleman and Robert Litvin attempt to pull over Hodge for failing to signal while making a left turn. It’s fair to debate whether such a small infraction was something worth pursuing in the first place.

Nonetheless, everything after that decision is what we expect of police officers. The troopers first try their flashing lights and then add their siren. Hodge speeds up, and the troopers pursue him. Eventually Hodge turns into a driveway. The troopers run up to his car as Hodge emerges with a gun that he appears to point in the direction of the troopers. Gunfire ensues. Hodge collapses. The video ends with the troopers applying emergency medical care while awaiting paramedics. ...

We can’t now ask Hodge what was going through his mind or know what was ultimately driving his decisions. He made the terrible and deadly choice that led to his death. Still, we should mourn that death and see the end of this young man’s life as tragic and a devastating loss.

We only wish his path in life had a different destination, that his humanity and his talents instead delivered him safely to his family.

Online voter registration

El Paso Times

Texas is being sued in federal court because it won’t accept electronic signatures on voter registration applications. Texas also is one of only 13 states that don’t allow online voter registration. It’s the only state among the nation’s eight most populous not to offer electronic voter registration.

Texas isn’t being sued for its failure to offer online voter registration — at least, not directly. So, why bring it up? Because if Texas had online registration, the lawsuit would be moot. Online registration can’t happen without acceptance of electronic signatures.

The electronic signatures at the heart of this lawsuit were part of an effort to offer eligible voters a convenient substitute to online registration. Vote.org, a website dedicated to promoting voter participation, offered a registration form for applicants to fill out online, which it then printed and mailed to vote registrars. The state rejected more than 2,400 applications submitted by Vote.org in 2018 because the signatures were not in-person originals.

According to the lawsuit, Texas’ signature rule imposes “an arbitrary requirement that limits access to the franchise.” Those assertions are so easy to prove ...

As of this writing, the state hadn’t responded to the lawsuit or commented about it. The best we can do to offer insight into the state’s position is to quote this warning issued in 2018 by then-Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos, the state official in charge of voter registration and elections:

“Any website that misleadingly claims to assist voters in registering to vote online by simply submitting a digital signature is not authorized to do so. All Texas voters should be extremely cautious when handing over personal and sensitive information to any unknown third party.”

While Pablos didn’t name names, if we were Vote.org, we’d have felt slandered. He also pointed out that Texas doesn’t offer online registration — but didn’t say why.

Why not offer online voter registration? There appear to be no downsides to its many upsides. It promotes voter participation by making registration easier and cheaper for eligible voters. It helps people in rural areas register without having to cover large physical distances to do it in person — this would be especially helpful in Texas. And it’s cheaper for the states that do it. ...

Texas should aspire to lead the nation in voter participation. It should embrace rather than reject or delay technological innovations such as online registration that make it easier for people to participate. ...

Today's Bible verse

“But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.”

— Psalm 22:19

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