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Texas State Democrats to Hold Week-Long Virtual Voting Rights Conference; No Plans to Leave DC Anytime Soon

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Texas Democrats have no intentions to travel to their home state in the foreseeable future, instead of holding an online conference to discuss their battle against the Republican voting draft legislation, which is seen as a voting obstructive that targets certain social groups by some, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.

The meeting, which will include politicians and activists, will begin Monday and continue through the next week, according to labour leader and civil rights campaigner Dolores Huerta.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Mi Familia Vota, an organisation that aims to encourage Latino voter participation, are expected to attend the conference, which is said to highlight voting practices proposed by Democratic lawmakers. Democratic members of the Texas House, including Barbara Jackson-Lee and Joaquin Castro, as well as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Mi Familia Vota, an organisation that aims to encourage Latino voter participation, are expected to attend.

With this conference, we will help prepare our voting rights champions for the fight ahead and we will show them that they aren’t alone in defending our democracy and fighting for us all

Mi Familia Vota’s CEO, Hector Sanchez, stated in a statement.

With COVID-19 protocols in place, this conference is the next step in our fight to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights act and the For the People Act.

Voting Reform in Texas

Texas Republican legislators, who now have a two-chamber majority in the state legislature, are battling to pass new election security standards in time for the next elections. Particularly noteworthy are their proposals for poll watchers’ protections as well as mandatory ID verification for mail-in ballots, video surveillance systems to livestream the larger polling stations, and voting hours from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. instead of the current round-the-clock operation of polling stations

Texas’s 150-member House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans, who have an 83-member advantage over Democrats, who have 67 seats. In order for a vote to be taken, two-thirds of the members of the chamber must be present – known as quorum.

In all, 57 Democratic legislators have fled the state and intend to stay in Washington, DC until August, to await the conclusion of an emergency Texas Congress session that started on July 8 and will continue for 30 days, at which point the restricted voting draught legislation will be removed off the agenda.

SB1 (Senate Bill 1), one of the voting reform measures that should have been presented in the state’s House of Representatives, was approved by the state’s Senate on Tuesday.

Another bill, House Bill 3 (HB3), introduced by Republican Representatives on the House floor, contains the same provisions as SB1, with the addition that public officials are prohibited from offering or providing vote-by-mail applications without first receiving a request from potential mail-in voters.

Both proposals have been put on hold in the Texas House of Representatives due to a lack of a quorum in the chamber at this time.

Republicans could use any and all legislative options available to them to get the bill passed, and the governor of Texas stated earlier this week that he would continue “calling special session after special session because over time it is going to continue until they [the Democrats] step up to vote.”

The governor also said that Republican Representatives may request that their Democratic colleagues be arrested, and the Texas House of Representatives voted on July 13 to authorise arrest warrants in order to possibly compel the Democrats to do their responsibilities. Those detentions can only be carried out in the state of Texas.

Democrats who “escaped,” according to state Democratic Representative Trey Martinez Fischer, have sought a meeting with US President Joe Biden to address the filibuster that is preventing the Democrats from passing voting reform legislation.

Many states in the United States, claiming the necessity to comply with pandemic-related restriction procedures, increased access to mail-in voting in the run-up to the most recent presidential elections. As the elections, which were denounced as fraudulent by President Donald Trump and several Republican legislators, came to a close, certain states added extra security measures to voting processes.

So far, 17 US states have enacted 28 new laws, including Georgia, Additional Mexico, and Florida, imposing new voting limitations such as shortened mail-in voting deadlines, the elimination of automatically sending ballots for mail-in voting, and new ID verification procedures.

Republicans say that their new voting restrictions would help avoid election anomalies, while Democrats argue that they are infringing on Americans’ freedom to vote.

The new voting changes are being implemented in the run-up to the 2022 mid-term elections, as well as a fight in the US Congress to enact new voting rules at the federal level.

Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

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