Battleground Texas, the liberal organization founded by out-of-state Obama campaign operatives, is criticizing the requirements of Texas election laws for its volunteers who have been registering voters in an effort to turn Texas into a battleground state.
According to an AP report, Battleground Texas is unhappy about the provisions on Section 13 of the Texas Election Code, which allow a “volunteer deputy registrar” to distribute voter registration forms and collect completed registration forms in the county in which they are registered, but only if the deputy registrar first completes the training courses required by Section 13.047. This training has to be repeated regularly because an appointment as a deputy registrar only lasts two years, expiring on December 31 every even-numbered year. Deputy registrars must also qualify under Texas law to be a registered voter, although they do not actually have to be registered to vote.
The requirement that deputy registrars undergo training was added into Texas law in 2011, two years before Battleground Texas was founded in 2013, and the provision establishing the expiration of terms every two years dates back to the 1980s. All of the Battleground Texas volunteers who registered voters during this past election cycle will lose their certification at the end of this year, and will have to undergo training again before they can continue to register voters.
Battleground Texas’ voter protection director Mimi Marziani called the statutory requirements “wildly burdensome” and claimed that they were designed to make it “much harder to vote.” However, Texas State Rep. Jim Murphy, the sponsor of the 2011 bill that mandated training for volunteer deputy registrars, rejected this criticism and defended the law as necessary to ensure compliance with the state’s election laws. “It takes away the defense of, ‘I didn’t know I couldn’t do that,'” said Murphy. “Clearly, I would agree it’s additional work, but so is having insurance for your house if it burns down.”
Among the statutory provisions with which volunteer deputy registrars must comply are prohibitions on receiving compensation based on the number of voter registration forms collected and requirements to protect voters’ private information.
Despite raising millions of dollars and frequent social media posts touting their “army” of volunteers, Battleground Texas failed to make a dent in this year’s elections. The Democratic candidate for Governor, Wendy Davis, lost to her Republican opponent, Greg Abbott, by a larger margin than previous Democratic challengers who ran against outgoing Governor Rick Perry. In fact, the entire slate of Democratic statewide candidates lost by double digits. Republican control of both houses of the Texas Legislature was strengthened and even Davis’ state senate seat returned to the Republicans, being won by tea party leader Konni Burton (R-Colleyville).
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.
This article initially identified State Rep. Jim Murphy as a state senator.