A recent Perryman Group study (paid for by the Texas Civil Rights Project, a left-wing group that advocates for insecure election practices) claims that Texas will lose more than $3 trillion and almost 7 million jobs over 25 years if the Legislature passes a bill to ensure more secure elections. But what does the one have to do with the other? Let’s look at the Perryman study a little more closely.
The study repeatedly claims that “extensive research” shows increasing voting access leads to higher wages. The study provides just one citation for this claim, a paper which investigated the effects of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. That law overruled many Jim Crow laws that were preventing Blacks from voting. The authors who analyzed the effects of Black enfranchisement found a positive impact on Black wages because Blacks were able to vote against discriminatory laws which had previously prevented Blacks from engaging in certain types of work or receiving the same pay as their white counterparts. Blacks also voted for more spending on education services which increased their human capital and therefore their wages.
But the situation in Texas today is vastly different from the United States in 1965 and the bill before the Legislature is nothing like a Jim Crow law. This hardly counts as “extensive research.” This means the Perryman study is fundamentally flawed in its assumption that election integrity will reduce wages and therefore workforce participation. As such, its conclusions are invalid.
The study also never explains how the bill before the Legislature will disenfranchise minorities, which is the implicit claim made in the study. There is nothing in either the Senate or House bills that mentions race, sexuality, or creed. There is no mention of poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, or anything else that in any way resembles Jim Crow.
And there are other flaws that cast serious doubt on the Perryman study. The Perryman Group repeatedly cites its own studies as references, for example.
Nevertheless, the study purports to estimate the effects of “discriminatory legislation” and “voter suppression laws,” without demonstrating that those are actually being debated by the Legislature.
The fact is that 69% of blacks and 82% of other minorities support measures that help secure elections, such as voter ID laws. Perhaps the only bigoted assumption here is that minorities are somehow incapable of obtaining an ID or filling out a form properly.
The bills which the Legislature has proposed do not restrict voting; they restrict opportunities for fraud in the voting process. Fraud dilutes legitimate votes and cancels them out, which is why furtive and unreliable voting practices, like mailing out unsolicited absentee ballots, are on the chopping block. The bills do not restrict voting access as Perryman implies. In short, the study is based on a misleading assumption.
There are more flaws in the Perryman study. Though it repeatedly espouses the virtue of the model that was apparently used, no structural empirical model is ever presented, anywhere, in the paper. How can we have confidence in the results?
The study also lists “internal losses” as those stemming from reductions in consumer spending. By some unrevealed metric, the study claims that billions of dollars will be lost every year in consumer spending if the sanctity of elections are protected, and fraud is minimized. By that logic, election fraud could be the greatest economic stimulus in the world. Precisely what calculations were used to derive these estimates is a mystery.
The “external losses” listed in the study are those stemming from reductions in tourism and “economic development.” Yet it rightly describes tourism losses as “potential.” Every single one of the external losses, from reduced tourism to reduced investment, relies on the incredulous assumption that the Lone Star State will be placed under a catastrophic economic boycott, largely by corporations and people from states with equally stringent voting protections and election laws.
In 2008, the Supreme Court ruled ID requirements for voting to be constitutional (Crawford v. Marion County Election Board) and cited the fact that obtaining a government ID is not overly burdensome. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a law that required Texas to obtain federal preclearance before implementing a voter ID law (Shelby County v. Holder). Texas was then immediately allowed to enact the law.
The legal case for voter ID laws and other election protections is sound. Likewise, the need for them is clear. Free and just elections are the only peaceful method by which people can protect their liberties and lives. Secure elections ensure that politicians are held accountable to the people whom they represent.
Along that line of thought, what better way to improve Texas, economically and politically, than with more secure elections? Politicians will be less likely to waste the taxpayers’ money and impose burdensome taxes and regulations if those same politicians are held accountable via a free and just election in which every legal vote is counted. It is the answerability of politicians to the people of Texas that will keep Texas free and prosperous, and that prosperity will undoubtedly attract many others to the Lone Star State. That means more investment, higher pay for employees, more jobs, and a better future.
If we want to see prosperity unleashed upon this land, secure elections are a prerequisite.