Democrats’ 2020 defeats haunt them in voting rights fight

“We use the tools we have. But as a minority party, we can only do that for so long,” said Gina Hinojosa of Texas, an Austin-based lawmaker who helped lead the strike over the weekend. “We must ultimately turn this house around to stop this right-wing agenda and focus on the needs of Texans.”

“Apparently the leadership was encouraged by the fact that the Democrats did not flip these seats and found their majority in the House of Representatives,” added Senator Beverly Powell, a Democrat from the Fort Worth area.

The Democrats’ ability to derail, but not end, the advance of left-wing party officials in Texas is asking Democrats in Congress to step in by passing a new federal suffrage law.

“These people in the legislature have shown that they are ready to do what is needed, but we need support,” said Lina Hidalgo, Democratic executive director of Harris County in Houston. “For better or for worse, this challenge ends at the foot of the US Senate. Really, it’s a cry for help. “

Texas Republicans are expected to adopt a version of their bill – the one following much of the Sunday The Democratic faction of the State House has resigned and broken the quorum – in a special meeting that has yet to be convened. Pushing to restrict electoral rules has become a GOP priority in state governments across the country as former President Donald Trump continues to lie and spread conspiracy theories about election results.

GOP Governor Greg Abbott called “electoral integrity” a “necessary emergency” item in a statement.

“I expect lawmakers to work out their differences before they get back to the Capitol so they can get started right away to pass laws,” Abbott said said in his testimony. Abbott too said he would veto the part of the budget that funds the legislature in retaliation and tweeted that “there is no reward for those who give up their responsibilities”.

An Abbott adviser said a decision on the timing of the special session was not imminent. Texas and other states are planning special legislative sessions later this year to look at redistribution after the Census Bureau released local population data needed to create new political maps.

Republican electoral law specifically targeted the practices of Harris County, the state’s largest county – and an increasing source of strength for the Democrats.

The bill would have banned drive-through and 24-hour voting that Harris County officials piloted during the 2020 election. The bill also added other restrictions on postal voting in Texas, in addition to the existing eligibility requirements, which mean that most Texas voters are not allowed to cast ballots this way. And it would have forbidden the electoral authorities to allow personal early voting before 1 p.m. on Sundays, seen as an attempt to limit the “Souls to the Polls” events popular with black churches. (State Rep. Travis Clardy, a Republican involved in the final negotiations on the bill, said NPR News on Tuesday the shortening of the voting hours on Sunday was a “mistake” and should not be included in the final invoice.)

Legislation too contain a commission allow a court to “explain” [an] Void vote ”if it found that the number of“ illegally cast ”votes was“ equal to or greater than the number of votes required to change the outcome of an election without trying to determine how individual voters voted to have”.

Democratic lawmakers vowed to argue again over similar proposals in the special session. “If people want to be pragmatic and roll up their sleeves and come up with a suggestion, we know how to do it. If people want to fight, we know how to do it, ”said Trey Martinez Fischer, who represents a district based in San Antonio. “You tell me what Republicans show up? [with] and I’ll tell you what kind of meeting we’re going to have. “

But the Texas Democrats likely won’t be able to run the clock forever. Instead, some hope that their extraordinary delay over the weekend will spur the Washington Democrats to push their own voting rights.

Two bills to vote are in the works but stalled at the moment in the 50-50 Senate. One is a comprehensive election and campaign finance reform bill, H.R. 1, which would introduce state electoral shelters – such as unexcused postal voting and same-day voter registration. Another bill would require certain states and jurisdictions to approve changes to electoral procedures by either the Department of Justice or a federal court in Washington to restore the “preliminary clarification requirements” in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which were removed by a 2013 Supreme Court decision.

In a statement over the weekend, President Joe Biden called Texas law “an attack on democracy” and called on Congress to pass the two proposals. In a speech in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Tuesday, he also named Vice President Kamala Harris as his point of contact on voting rights.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has promised a vote on HR 1 in the last week of June. But the final fate of the bill remains uncertain. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) Remains the only Senate Democrat who has not signed the comprehensive package. And Manchin and a handful of other Democratic senators have also resisted calls to abolish or change the filibuster, which effectively requires 60 votes to move most of the laws in the chamber.

The update to the voting rights law has yet to be submitted to Congress.

Martinez Fischer, who also led the strike over the weekend, said he hoped their protest would “wake up the nation” and urged the Senate to approve H.R. 1 to continue.

“It is important for Fiihrer Schumer and the Senate leaders to understand where we stand – at a crossroads in America,” he said. “I acknowledge that there are some senators who believe that eliminating the filibuster is tantamount to destroying our country. And my only answer to that is that there are people who want to destroy our country state by state, and we have to recognize that and that there is a higher good. “

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