7/16: Texas; Biden making headlines
This week saw many individuals taking a stand in the fight for free and fair elections.
We pulled together our media engagement graph, demonstrating traditional media attention versus social media attention. No surprises this week; there were no strong outliers one way or another.
Texas Dems are taking a stand
The most discussed topic, by far, over the last week was what's going on in Texas. Many Texas Democrats fled to Washington D.C. this week to appeal for voting rights to Congress.
The move also had a more strategic purpose: not enough representatives were present in Texas for a quorum in order to vote on the voting bill heralded as Georgia 2.0.
Texas GOP members pushed for the bill both last legislative session and in the current special session called by Gov. Abbott explicitly to address the bill again, after the Texas Dems thwarted the previous effort.
Gov. Abbott has called for Democrat legislators to be arrested when they return to Texas and Mitch McConnell has come out harshly criticizing their effort as well. Regardless, the extreme measure to which the legislators have gone to avoid the proposed bill speaks to the cruciality of the issue and the partisanship in Texas government.
Biden speaks out
President Biden's recent speech on voting rights comes in at #2 this week, after he spoke in Philadelphia denouncing his predecessor's "Big Lie" claim, suggesting that the U.S. is facing its most significant test of American democracy since the Civil War, and urging again the passage of the For the People Act in Congress.
We see his perception of the current state of the U.S. clearly playing out as legislators flee to avoid passing harmful legislation and similar measures pass around the country. Biden acknowledged the previous failure of the For the People Act but stressed its importance as the 2022 elections draw nearer.
What else? A little of this, a little of that
The filibuster, the MLB All-Star game, and the Arizona election audit lingered on as popular topics in the last week.
A new story that drew attention and criticism over the week: a Texas man was arrested on illegal ballot charges after voting while on parole. The man went viral last year after waiting in line for 6 hours to cast his ballot - an effort that resulted in $100,000 bail and up to 20 years in prison.
The ACLU and other organizations condemn the arrest, stating that it should "alarm all Texans" - the arrest comes in the midst of the restrictive voting legislation in the Texas legislature and appears in stark contrast to legislation in other areas of the country loosening restrictions on felon voting rights.
The country is in turmoil - can redistricting make a difference?
In the midst of this all, redistricting efforts continue - noted by traditional media, ignored on social. Will the newly drawn maps make a difference one way or another? We started these analytical efforts at a time when the sitting president was spreading rampant misinformation that damaged the credibility of U.S. elections. Now, though the current president displays more trust in the process, the work is clearly not done. Free and fair elections must continued to be championed.
We'll see you next week.