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For the second time in a month, Texas Republicans are fighting to implement harsh voting restrictions across the state. If passed, these new laws would make access to the ballot box far more difficult for millions who call the state home. Now, Democrats in the state legislature are planning to do whatever they can to stop it.
Democratic state Rep. Erin Zweiner told CBS News recently that she believes Republicans “are doing everything they can to cling on to power.” Zweiner says that, in the wake of the pandemic and the catastrophic failure of the state’s electric grid, the GOP “is deathly afraid that Texans are about to figure out that they have better options.”
Democrats blocked the legislation from passing in May by staging a walkout, but Governor Gregg Abbott called a special session to get the bill passed.
Texas bills seek to restrict access to the ballot box
If passed in their current form, the bills would make it substantially more difficult for Texans to vote by mail. It would also prohibit extended voting hours and drive-through voting locations. In addition, these bills would enhance legal penalties for poll workers who assist voters in casting their ballot.
In an NPR interview, Texas attorney James Slattery said “voters of color and shift workers” benefited most from these options.
“Consider the bans on those forms of voting to be a direct attack on voters of color,” Slattery said.
Texas Republicans, of course, refute the idea that these bills are inherently racist or targeted at Black and brown communities. Instead, they choose to repeat talking points that bills like this are necessary to curb election fraud.
The bill’s author, Senator Bryan Hughes, claimed the legislation is “about protecting voters from folks who are trying to steal votes.”
Texas now front and center in nationwide push for voting rights
Texas leaders are using this language nationally to try and block efforts at voter reform that expands ballot access. Ted Cruz, US Senator and frequent Cancun visitor, was one of the top officials pushing election fraud conspiracy theories that fueled the insurrection.
There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud taking place in the 2020 presidential election. On average, fewer than ten cases of voter fraud are documented every year. There is no evidence that voter fraud has ever influenced an election.
Similar efforts to suppress votes are taking place in states across the country, including in the state of Georgia.
Texas Democrats are continuing to discuss ways in which they can block damaging legislation like this bill from becoming law. Reporting suggests several plan to fly to Washington Monday afternoon to prevent the legislature from having a quorum to hold the vote.
Former Representative Beto O’Rourke has been barnstorming the state to rally support for efforts to block the bill.
“Let’s make it loud and clear,” O’Rourke said, “Texas is on the front lines of this fight.”