The reality of voter suppression and voter disenfranchisement became starkly evident in Texas. Thousands of voters of color were forced to wait hours on end to cast their votes.
If you were of the belief that America's political system didn't care about the votes of minorities, especially people of color, it only became even more apparent on Super Tuesday. Voters of color found themselves waiting hours on end to even get into their respective polling booths. In Texas, this was a particularly chronic issue. MSNBC journalist Garrett Haake had the opportunity to speak with a voter outside Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, a historically black university that was recently turned into a polling place. He had to wait a whopping five and a half hours in order to cast his vote.
The voter, Justin McWay, was told that the voting process would become faster and smoother as time went on. However, not much changed over the five hours he waited at Texas Southern University. "Well, the whole time we were out here, they were saying they had more [voting] machines coming in," he explained. "There were only 20 at first (10 for Democrats and 10 for Republicans), but as we got closer and closer, people were coming out saying there were machines that weren't working." Justin clarified that none of the machines were functioning the way that they were supposed to. Additionally, he noted that there were only two staffers on deck to help voters cast their votes. Clearly, this was an institutional problem.
Furthermore, when asked about whether the university was a brand new polling place, Justin responded in the affirmative. He shared that his community would usually go to Emancipation Park, where voters would be able to cast their vote and be in and out within five minutes. This year, things were far more inefficient. However, he was still thankful for all the helpful hands that played an important role in ensuring voters persevered and remained in line. He said that there were friendly folks bringing in food and drinks. "Don't get me wrong, we've had nice people bringing us pizza, cookies, and drinks," he stated. "But at the end of the day, we were here for five hours. Even when you got inside the building, you still had to wait two and a half hours." Why did he stay, you ask? Well, he knew that his vote counts. He said, "At the end of the day, I think we all stayed and motivated each other because we wanted to get our votes across. We really felt like they must've been doing this on purpose, in order to discourage people [from coming to] vote."
No citizen should have to experience what Justin did. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated instance. Since 2012, numerous polling booths have closed down in majority black and Latinx areas. As Rachel Maddow pointed out, this is a systemic issue of voter disenfranchisement and voter suppression. She stated, "In Texas, McLennan County... [It] closed 44 percent of [its] polling places between 2012 and 2018. During that time, its population grew by more than 15,000 people. More than two-thirds of that growth: African-American and Latino population." This is a problem that can be seen across the United States, but it is "systematically underway" in Texas. The only solution? Talking to your elected representatives. But when you can't vote them in, what do you do? Evidently, America and its more diverse counties are stuck in an institutional lock and loop.