Texas

Democrats entered Election Day hopeful that Texas had changed enough politically and demographically in recent years for Joe Biden to win the state’s 38 electoral votes and disrupt the national political landscape.

It didn’t turn out that way.

From Texas Standard:

One outcome of the 2020 election was a loosening of some drug laws in several states. Arizona, New Jersey and South Dakota approved the use of recreational marijuana, and Oregon passed a law decriminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs like cocaine, heroine and methamphetamine.

While Texas is far behind when it comes to legalization of any currently illicit drug, Katharine Neill Harris, a drug policy fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy, tells Texas Standard that that could change in the upcoming legislative session as Texas learns from the growing number of states where pot is legal.

From Texas Standard:

President-elect Joe Biden has begun rolling out his transition plan, including a website listing four priorities for the start of his administration: COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change.

Republicans Maintain Majority On Texas Education Board

Nov 6, 2020

Democrats are gaining one seat on the Republican-dominated State Board of Education, while Republicans held on in the other races that Democrats had hoped to flip in the 2020 general election.

At a senior staff meeting one Thursday morning in May, with much of the Texas attorney general’s office working from home and morale seeming low, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton arrived at the Price Daniel Sr. State Office Building in downtown Austin with a surprise honor for a top deputy: a copy of "Scalia Speaks," the late conservative U.S. Supreme Court justice’s book.

Paxton had inscribed it with a congratulatory note for Blake Brickman, and presented it personally at the meeting of about 20 people.


Cases of COVID-19 in El Paso continued to skyrocket on Wednesday as the city reported a record 3,100 new people contracted the virus, smashing the previous single-day record by more than 1,000.

Texas House Appears To Remain In Republican Control

Nov 4, 2020

It would be the biggest political shakeup in Texas in nearly two decades – snapping Republicans’ long control of the House, Senate and governor’s office. And it seemed like it might be within reach.

Democrats needed to hold the 12 seats they picked up in 2018 – and win nine more. They poured money into races around the state.

"Democrats gave it a really good try," Rice University political science professor Mark Jones said. "The difficulty is they’re still in a Republican state and a majority of the voters in many of these districts are still Republican-leaning."

Lee esta historia en español.

Below are results for statewide races and Texas Legislature elections in Central Texas, courtesy of The Texas Tribune.

John Cornyn is headed back to the U.S. Senate. He beat Democrat MJ Hegar by about 10 points. He thanked his family and said he’s committed to serving all Texans, whether or not they supported his re-election.

"My goal as your United States Senator is simple," Cornyn said. "Continue to make Texas a place of exceptional opportunity for all. In the next six years I look forward to our visits, our celebrations and working together to overcome whatever challenges comes our way."

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Some people of color living in rural parts of Texas will drive farther to get to the polls today than white residents living in the same counties, according to research from Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.

More Than 1 Million Young Texans Voted Early In 2020 Election

Nov 2, 2020

Texas was one of the first states to cast more votes in the 2020 election than in all of 2016.

More than a million young Texans cast their ballots before early voting ended on Friday. That also put the Lone Star State first in the U.S. for young voter turnout.

On the same day, the statewide total vote soared to about 9.7 million, compared to just under 9 million in 2016.

On Saturday morning, Bexar County reported 594,735 early votes.

As soon as Kamala Harris took the stage outside a bustling church here, she made her intentions for the audience clear.

“So listen, today is the last day of early voting in Texas and you all have been doing your thing,” she said after taking off the face mask she wore on stage, nodding to the state’s record-breaking early turnout so far this year and polls suggesting that the state is in play.

“Now we know this is no time to let up on the pedal though, right?”

There’s been a record turnout of voters in Texas. The number of ballots cast during early voting has already surpassed the total turnout of voters from the 2016 General Election.

This high turnout has Democrats hopeful that this could be the year Texas turns blue, and the Biden campaign spent the weekend trying to further mobilize the Texas electorate to come out and vote.

With new coronavirus infections surging and area hospitals already at capacity, medical examiners in El Paso, Texas, have received a fourth refrigerated morgue to temporarily store bodies, a county official says.

It is a stark reality for a city where coronavirus patients have been succumbing to COVID-19 at a rate faster than medical personnel can investigate their cases. El Paso sits along the U.S. southern border and is referred to as part of the Borderplex, along with Mexico's Ciudad Juárez.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into a Friday incident in which a group of Trump supporters, driving trucks and waving Trump flags, surrounded and followed a Biden campaign bus as it drove up I-35 in Hays County, a law enforcement official confirmed to The Texas Tribune on Saturday.


The man who arrived at the emergency room in Childress earlier this month did not have COVID-19, but he did have a serious abdominal condition that required surgery, hospital administrators said.

The number of voters who cast ballots in the Texas early voting period this year has now surpassed the total number of people who voted in all of 2016.

There have been eight new polls of Texas likely voters released in the last five days — and on the presidential level, the results are decidedly mixed: Six show Donald Trump in the lead, and three have Joe Biden in front.

Kamala Harris’ trip to Texas on Friday will include three stops across the state, including in the Rio Grande Valley, according to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign.

Biden’s running mate is set to visit to Fort Worth, Houston and McAllen.

Juan Venancio and his parents flipped through an old photo album in their home in Southwest Houston, reflecting on the chaos of 2020. A first time voter, Venancio keeps COVID-19 and the economic fallout in mind as the election approaches.

“Most people, when they turn 18, they’re really happy you know to get a car or go to college,” Venancio said. “I was obviously happy to go to college and do these things and become more independent, but one of the things I was most excited about about turning 18 is being able to vote.”

Lee esta historia en español. 

From Texas Standard:

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA. It bars discrimination in public accommodations and is supposed to allow for full participation for people with disabilities.

But even with something as fundamental as voting, people with disabilities sometimes face limited access.

In what’s expected to be the final ruling on the matter, the Texas Supreme Court has upheld Gov. Greg Abbott’s order limiting Texas counties to only one drop-off location for voters to hand deliver their absentee ballots during the pandemic.

Slowly And Cautiously, The VA Is Reopening Its Medical Clinics

Oct 28, 2020

You won't see rows of parked cars on the first floor of the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital parking garage in Tampa. Instead, the garage is filled with hospital beds, computers, medication carts, and an X-ray machine.

The medical center has begun seeing more patients after it initially sharply restricted care at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. But to do that, it has moved most of its emergency department outside.

Patients with minor issues like sprained ankles can receive treatment in the garage and never have to step foot inside the hospital.


Texas voters are now required to wear face masks when casting ballots during the pandemic, a federal district judge ruled Tuesday, invalidating an exemption for polling places that Gov. Greg Abbott had included in his statewide mask mandate.

Texas has been home to several high-profile mass shootings over the past decade. And after each deadly event, like clockwork, there's a debate about the types of legislation that can be passed to prevent the next tragedy. But for some reason, the issue has hardly been spoken about during the 2020 election cycle.

Sylvia Cervantes is 74 years old, retired and spends a lot of time tending to her front garden in Laredo.

“These are my pride in joy,” she said in Spanglish. “These are my Angel Trumpets. See how beautiful they open up.”

Her garden is filled with flowers like Angel Trumpets, Plumerias and Hibiscuses. The upkeep can be grueling work.

“When you’re poor, you have to work very hard because you don’t have to get a gardener. I don’t have the money,” she said.

But she’s used to hard work.

Lee esta historia en español. 

From Texas Standard:

On Election Day, members of the Texas Army National Guard will be in the streets of some Texas cities. According to reporting on Monday, the order came from Gov. Greg Abbott. The troops are said to have been called in case of disturbances that arise during the Nov. 3 election.

But many questions remain about where exactly troops will be, and what they'll be doing. 

Texas voters are on pace to break records this year: The state already has surpassed 80% of its total 2016 vote total.

But while Texas is among those states leading the country this election cycle, it's long been notorious for low voter turnout – and rules that make it harder to vote here than in most other states. A recent University of Northern Illinois analysis ranked Texas dead last in terms of access to the ballot.

Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s running mate and the California U.S. senator, will be visiting Texas on Friday, according to an email Biden’s campaign sent to Democratic lawmakers in Texas on Sunday.

Harris will be the highest-profile representative of the Biden campaign to visit Texas in person during the general election, though his campaign was already set to spend millions of dollars on TV ads in Texas.

Three years after the #MeToo movement went viral, the military is having its own version of the movement: #IAmVanessaGuillen.

People are using the hashtag to share their accounts of being raped, sexually assaulted, and sexually harassed in the military. They say there often were few or no consequences for their attackers.

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