Why Voter Access is Important to Texas Food Banks

Feeding Texas respectfully urges the Texas House to protect legal and fair access to the ballot box for Texans by opposing the passage of HB3.  

According to a 2020 analysis of voting records, eligible voters with incomes less than twice the federal poverty line routinely vote at a much lower rate than their higher-income peers. In 2016, the voter participation rate of near-poor Americans was 22% below that of those with higher incomes.  

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Source: Poor People’s Campaign, 2020 

These are the same families served by our twenty-one Texas food banks. We routinely witness a lack of public investment in these communities and the creation of public policies that are misaligned with community needs, resulting in increased hunger.  

We know that greater political accountability results in the attention and resources of our policy-makers, which is why Feeding Texas supported the efforts of several of our food banks to pursue non-partisan voter registration and GOTV activities among the Texans we serve.  

In the fall of 2020, the Houston Food Bank served as a polling location for the general election to ensure legal and fair access to voters. Two options were available to voters during early voting – walk-in voting for those able to access the traditional format and drive-thru for those significantly constrained, including seniors, individuals with disabilities, parents caring full-time for their children, and populations more vulnerable to COVID-19. These latter groups are also strongly represented among those who seek food bank services.  

Scenes from the Houston Food Bank early voting site 

By all accounts, the operation was secure, accessible and a benefit to both food bank clients and volunteers who otherwise may not have been able to cast a ballot. Nearly 4,000 Harris County residents cast their ballot at the food bank, and over half of these voters used the drive-through option. Flexibilities such as drive-thru voting and extended voting hours that made this opportunity possible would be disallowed under HB3. 

The diverse community perspectives reflected in the choices that voters make at the polls are necessary to meet the needs of all Texas communities, including those experiencing hunger. We ask the Texas House to continue to protect legal and fair access for these voters and oppose passage of HB3. 

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