In defending voter-suppression bill, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick falsely claims most people of color don't own cars

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick appears to know even less about car-ownership statistics than he does selecting flattering shirts. - Wikimdia Commons / Gage Skidmore
Wikimdia Commons / Gage Skidmore
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick appears to know even less about car-ownership statistics than he does selecting flattering shirts.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has a lengthy history of making absurd claims, but a recent outburst that drew scrutiny from the fact-checking website Politifact is out there even by his standards.

In his defense of a Texas Senate bill that would outlaw drive-thru voting, the state's Republican lieutenant governor argued the measure wouldn't suppress poll access for people of color, as many voting-rights groups argue, because, well, most of those folks don't own cars.

If you just did a spit take, let's roll the tape.

"If they're worried about people of color — on the Democrats' side who came up with this drive-in voting — statistics show that more people of color don't have cars than not," Patrick said during an April 6 press conference defending the Lege's raft of voter-suppression bills. "So, how do [drive-thru voting centers] help those folks?"

On its face, Patrick's claim is ludicrous. Not just a tad ludicrous, but over-the-fucking-top ludicrous.

Even so, Politifact did what it does and pulled the data to show just how ludicrous it is in a measured, nonpartisan manner.

First, the group reached out to Patrick's office to understand which statistics the lieutenant governor was referring to during his presser. No dice. His spokesperson didn't return messages.

At that point, the journalists at Politifact did what journalists do and unearthed facts and figures to get to the bottom of the claim. To that end, they turned to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which collects demographic, social and economic data from 3.5 million households annually.

And here's what the Census Bureau found in its 2019 survey, the most recent available: 88% of Texas' African American population owns at least one vehicle, while 95% of the state's Asian and Latino populations each own at least one motorized set of wheels.

"Vehicle ownerships rates are similarly high for the state’s white, native, mixed race and other racial groups," Politifact added.

Little surprise then that the organization rated Patrick's claim as "False." However, folks with more of a flair for colorful Texas metaphor might be tempted to assign it a rating of "False with a Steaming Side Serving of Over-the-Fucking-Top Ludicrous."

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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