A Republican move to impede access to the vote in Texas ended up being blocked by Democrats who boycotted the sitting that would vote on the measure on Sunday night (30), amid a nationwide movement that has already passed legislation of the type in different states.
Just before the midnight local time (2:00 a.m. Monday, 31, Brazil) deadline to approve the proposal, Democrats dropped the session, leaving 14 lawmakers below the necessary quorum of 100 MPs. After the departure of the deputies, the Assembly was suspended until 10 a.m. on Monday, which prevented the vote from taking place within the allotted time.
However, this decision does not end the chances that the legislation will be approved. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is a strong supporter of reform and said in a statement the bill would be on the agenda for a special legislative session that could begin on Tuesday (1), restarting the process. If there is a vote, the rule must be approved, as the House has a Republican majority.
With a series of limitations and bans, the proposal makes it even more difficult to vote in a state with one of the most restrictive election laws in the United States. The bill rolls back measures used last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, such as drive-thru voting, which would have helped boost turnout in Houston.
The text also limits the early opening of electoral zones, prohibiting voting before 1:00 p.m. on Sundays. Critics say it is an attack on the effort of predominantly black-frequented churches, where worshipers travel by caravan to vote after morning services.
In addition, the bill makes it difficult to deposit ballots in transit, eliminates both PO boxes or PO boxes and polling stations open 24 hours a day, and prohibits the use of mobile or temporary structures as offices. to vote.
The bill also realizes the judicialization of the election, which makes it easier for courts to overturn elections in which there is an allegation of fraud. Rather than asking for proof that the fraudulent votes directly resulted in the victory of a candidate, the court could annul the election if the number of those votes is equal to the margin of victory, regardless of which candidate they benefited from. .
The measures under discussion would also affect Texans who vote by mail. Election authorities would be prohibited from sending remote ballots without being solicited by voters – who usually receive them automatically, on the basis of a list.
The discussion in Texas follows a nationwide decision by Republicans to make voting difficult, with 22 such laws passed in 14 states, according to a poll released Friday by the Brennan Center for Justice.
Lawmakers in Donald Trump’s party were encouraged by a base that adopted the former president’s unproven claims that there was voter fraud last year. However, Republican prosecutor himself, William Barr, dismissed the theory in December.
Democrats and civil rights groups argue that such legislation disproportionately weighs or discourages non-white voters, as well as older and disabled voters.
Members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and the civil rights-related Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) state office say the bill is reminiscent of a time when legislation was passed to make more difficult the vote of blacks, maintaining racial segregation in the southern United States between the late nineteenth century and the 1960s. “It is a clear case of seizing power and putting minorities in their place so that” they can never share power in Texas, ”said Gary Bledsoe, chairman of the local NAACP office, before voting on the measure.
President Joe Biden, Democrat, said in a statement on Saturday that Texas law “attacks the sacred right to vote.” Julian Castro, Barack Obama’s Housing and Urban Development secretary and former San Antonio mayor, said the rapid demographic change in Texas had scared Republicans. According to state government estimates, the number of Hispanics is expected to exceed that of non-Hispanics, making them the majority group later this year.
Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, at a press conference, urged the US Congress to expand electoral rights to block efforts in Republican-controlled states.
On the other hand, proponents of the proposal said it was necessary to strengthen security during the elections. The text of the measure specifies that the changes “are not intended to undermine the right to free vote”, but are necessary to “prevent fraud in the electoral process”. Republican Michael McCaul, who represents Texas in the Federal House, told CNN the goal was to “give Americans more confidence” in the prosecution.
In last year’s election, however, there were no major allegations of fraud in Texas, and Republicans have wielded influence for three decades in both the state legislature and executive. Earlier this month, dozens of companies – including American Airlines, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft – urged lawmakers to reject any bills that make it difficult to vote.