Texas GOP reportedly wants to stop voters from choosing their own elected officials

The Texas Republican Party reportedly wants  to create an electoral college system within the state that could  overturn the popular vote in choosing statewide elected officials.

The Texas Republican Party is facing accusations of trying to rig elections, after it reportedly made moves to amend its platform to call for an end to direct election of statewide officeholders.

The platform calls for creating an electoral college system within the state, by which electors from each state Senate district would elect statewide officeholders, according to Kevin Herman, a columnist with the Austin American-Statesman.

The party platform, as it did in 2018, calls for the repeal of the 17th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides for direct election by the voters of United States senators. In its place, it calls for the appointment of U.S. senators by state legislatures, Herman reported.

A spokesperson for the Texas Republican Party did not immediately return a request for comment on why the party feels such moves are necessary.

Texas Republicans currently control the state Legislature, which has created what former Rep. Beto O'Rourke called "one of the most gerrymandered states in the union."

Creating an electoral college system based on those gerrymandered districts could help ensure that Republicans keep power, even if a Democrat wins the statewide popular vote.

The attempt comes as Texas looks to be trending Democratic. Suburbs of the state's major cities, such as Austin, Dallas, and Houston, have been shifting left and turning out more Democratic voters, as demographics change and more voters reject Donald Trump and the Republican Party he's reshaped in his image.

In 2018, Texas Democrats flipped two historically Republican congressional seats. And in 2020, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to the House, is targeting five more districts, touting the party's recruits in those seats.

Meanwhile, polling shows presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden neck and neck with Trump in the state. Trump leads in Texas by  just 0.3% according to FiveThirtyEight's polling average, leading the Biden campaign to run ads in the state. Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party, told Politico: "The message is that the Biden campaign recognizes that Texas is a state that is different now, that they see it as a battleground and intend to make a play for Texas."

"Texas Republicans have gone to greater extremes to suppress votes & illegally gerrymander than in almost any other state, but now that it’s becoming more competitive, they're proposing to literally gerrymander statewide elections by picking the winner based on TX Senate districts," tweeted Stephen Wolf, a gerrymandering and voting rights expert with Daily Kos.

The platform will be voted on at the Texas Republican Party's statewide convention, which has been moved online after Houston blocked the party from holding the event at a convention center amid a massive coronavirus outbreak. The Texas GOP tried to get Houston's decision overturned, but the all-Republican state Supreme Court ruled against it, forcing the event online.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation. Attribution to Emily Singer.