Texas Democrats Plan To Flee, Say “No” To Voting On Racist Voter Law
There was a lot of controversy regarding Senate Bill 7 earlier this year.
So much that Democrats ended up walking out of the state capitol building to avoiding voting on it.
Now they're staging another mobile protest.
Earlier this year, Democrats walked out of a legislative session after receiving a mass text message from State Representative Christ Turner, Chair of the Texas House Democratic Caucus, instructing them to leave. The move helped prevent passage of SB 7, which called for sweeping election reform championed by Republicans in response to former president Donald Trump's claims that he was robbed of re-election in 2020 due to voter fraud.
Today, the Texas Tribune reports those same Democrats planned on flying to Washington D.C. and refusing to take part in the legislative process, which would prevent Republicans from passing new voting bills in Texas during the current special session called by Governor Greg Abbott. For now, at least.
NBC News reports that at least 51 Democratic Texas lawmakers took chartered planes to Washington Monday afternoon. They're not just running down the clock, though. They say they'll be spending three weeks in the nation's capitol to advocate for a piece of federal voting legislation called the For the People Act.
Here in Texas, Republicans argue that Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3 are meant to prevent voter fraud and protect election integrity, and that the uniform voting hours required under the bills would actually expand hours in some counties. The bills would also ban drive-thru voting, except for disabled voters qualifying for curbside voting.
Democrats argue that there is no proof of voter fraud, and that new legislation would disproportionately burden people of color in Texas.
Basically, the controversy around this bill is that some believe it is racist and seeks to limit the ability of minorities and the less fortunate to vote.
Language in the bills would limit early voting hours and ban 24-hour voting like that seen in Harris County in November 2020's election. Some argue that expanded hours benefitted people of color and shift workers who've faced obstacles to getting to the polls in the past, but Republicans argue expanded hours somehow led to voter fraud. (Texas' 2020 election results painted the state mostly red, so it's a little odd that Republicans are harping on these fraud claims.)
Note: A proposal to restrict the start of early voting hours on Sundays has been taken off the table. It was seen as an attempt to prevent "souls to the polls" efforts, which traditionally encourage Black voters to head to the polls after Sunday services. (Axios reports that at least one Republican claimed there was no such attempt, and that a typo in SB 7 led to a misunderstanding.)
Disturbing to some is language that would provide protection and expanded rights for partisan poll watchers and would call for jail time for election workers who reject poll watchers. The idea was so concerning that SB 7 had to updated to include a requirement that poll watchers take an oath not to disrupt the voting process or harass voters. Both HB 3 and SB 1 also require such an oath.
FYI, the State of Texas defines a poll watcher as:
– a person appointed to observe the conduct of an election on behalf of:
• a candidate,
• a political party, or
• the proponents or opponents of a measure (specific-purpose political action committees).
Texas isn't the only state struggling with voting issues and the potential ramifications.
The state of Georgia, for example, would have hosted the 2021 MLB All-Star Game (that would bring millions of dollars to the state), but Major League Baseball yanked it due to racist voting laws passed there.
I wonder what measure the lawmakers will take after they lose more elections, especially after trying to make it harder for people to vote.
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