87th LegislatureLocal NewsStudy Suggests Negative Economic Impacts of Election Integrity Reforms, Criticized by Dallas Commissioner

Expert testimony before North Texas county commissioners asserted that proposed state election reforms will have a detrimental economic impact.
May 5, 2021
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Both Tarrant County and Dallas County commissioners received a report from Dr. Ray Perryman of The Perryman Group in Waco which claimed that election reform legislation being proposed in the state would have detrimental economic impacts.

According to Perryman, his research showed that “when people have access to the ballot, over time those people’s earnings improve.” 

Conversely, Perryman claimed that decreases in access to voting lead to lower earnings over time. He also asserted that it has negative impacts on tourism and economic development.

His study claims that Texas will lose $16.7 billion in tourism and economic development revenue and 149,644 in jobs by 2025 if laws restricting voter access are passed.

“Controversial laws diminish the ability to attract knowledge workers and the companies that employ them, thus reducing economic development prospects over time,” Perryman noted in his presentation. He also pointed to the example of Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game from Atlanta.

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Perryman was invited to speak to the Dallas County Commissioners Court by Democrat county Judge Clay Jenkins and in Tarrant County by Democrat Commissioner Devan Allen, both of whom are affiliated with the Texas Right to Vote campaign. 

The Texas Right to Vote campaign is a left-leaning voting rights group with Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro in leadership.

The study was funded by the Texas Civil Rights Project, a left-wing group of lawyers and advocates that, according to its website, “fights for racial and economic justice.” 

Dallas County Commissioner J.J. Koch (R-District 2) was critical of Perryman’s study, which he argued has several faulty assumptions.

“This is the type of reason why people don’t trust experts. We need to get back to a place of having trusted experts,” Koch told The Texan.

First, Koch criticized the modeling in the study, saying it is based on false premises of two studies that aren’t applicable. The first shows the positive impacts on minority voter access from 1950-1980, a time of accelerated growth in access by overturning previous discriminatory practices. While this study shows a positive impact during the period, Koch points out that it does not prove the inverse. One can not take a study that proves a positive and claim that it proves a negative, he asserted. 

Koch added that the second study in the model merely showed a correlation between the participation of women in the workforce and their participation in voting. It does not seem to have any connection to election reforms.

Koch asked why no studies of the economic impacts in the 20 states with voter identification laws were presented.

“This is sophisticated lying, and I don’t want to see it in our court,” Koch said.

In response to these criticisms, Perryman cited his experience and the non-partisan nature of his studies, which sometimes result in outcomes that Republicans favor and sometimes outcomes that Democrats favor. 

The second issue noted by Koch was that Perryman’s study assumed that Texas election reform legislation actually limits ballot access for minority voters, but it doesn’t define what restricted access means.

“I’m not here to stand up for everything that is going on down in Austin,” Koch added. He is willing to discuss issues like the number of drop boxes allowed and voting hours, decisions which he is inclined to believe are best made locally.

Senate Bill (SB) 7 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) passed the Senate in early April and moved on to the House. Major provisions in SB 7 include allowing poll watchers to record in some circumstances, establishing a system to track mail ballots, and codifying a prohibition on drive-through voting.

The Texas House has a separate election integrity proposal by Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park). 

“The idea that our elections are free from vote dilution is demonstrably false, and we must root out and penalize every attempt to delegitimize our votes,” said Cain in a press release. “Every Texan from every background must have the security and trust that their vote matters. It is our duty to get this right, and we will get this right.”

In Tarrant County, Republican County Judge Glen Whitley expressed his appreciation to Perryman for his study showing the reported negative impacts of the election reform legislation. Whitley said the legislation is an attempt by Austin to take election control away from local officials. 

The economic information provided by Perryman will help win over a few legislators “who may not be so inclined to just listen to an organization who sends them a piece of paper telling them who to vote for, especially Empower Texans,” Whitley said critically.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.