Jolt Action

All eyes on Texas as voting rights legislation showdown heats up

Texas politicians have left no stone unturned in their effort to determine if any irregularities occurred in the 2020 election. Recent election audits in Harris, Dallas, Tarrant and Collin counties have returned very few discrepancies from the original vote counts – nothing even close to changing any election results. 

This comes on the heels of the revelation that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s investigation of voter fraud in Texas elections cost taxpayers 2.2 million dollars and successfully brought only three cases of voter fraud to court. There simply was not much voter fraud to be found. 

Yet, Texas Republicans continue to insist that our elections are not secure and that we need more statewide restrictions on exactly when and where Texans are able to cast their votes. Through redistricting and the passage of Senate Bill 1, the Texas GOP intends to keep a stranglehold on power, as they tighten their grip on a purple-ish state with a long history of voting blue. 

While Conservatives are determined to maintain control by any means necessary, there are leaders actively fighting for expanded voting rights in Texas. In the 87th Legislature (and subsequent special sessions) Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives broke quorum (which is the act of refusing to be present to block a vote) to stall SB 1 as long as possible. Furthermore, when Republican lawmakers tried to deter people from testifying on the legislation by calling committee hearings with as little as 24-hour notice, hundreds of Texans still came to testify in opposition. Some even waited almost 24 hours to let their voices be heard by the House elections committee. It is thanks to these folks that litigation challenging these suppressive laws will stand a chance in court. 

 At the federal level, voting rights legislation is back in the headlines as U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced Tuesday that Democrats hope to pass legislation such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act through Congress by Martin Luther King Jr Day, January 17th. Schumer indicated that if necessary, he would support changing Senate filibuster rules to allow the bill to pass with 51 votes instead of 60. 

Meanwhile, the United States Attorney General Merrick Garland has sued Texas over the state’s new political districts following the 2020 census. The results of the census showed major population growth among Latinos, yet the political districts seem to have been drawn to water down the power of Latino voters. 

The clock is ticking from now to January 17th, and Texas’ Democratic Primaries for 2022 are also coming up fast on March 1st. With the representation of our state on the line, Texas is shaping up to be the biggest voting rights fight in the country, and the right of Latinos to vote in free and fair elections hangs in the balance. 

With Latinos now making up a major portion of the Texas population, we have the power to change government for the better. Voting rights are worth la lucha.