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TX Democrats Aim to Stop Voter Restrictions by Leaving Town

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Tuesday, July 13, 2021   

AUSTIN, Texas -- A majority of Democrats in the Texas House exited the state Monday in an attempt to block Republicans from passing new laws to restrict voting.

The special session that began last Thursday was called after Democrats walked out of the regular legislative session to prevent Senate Bill 7 from passing.

At least 51 of the 67 Democratic representatives flew to Washington, D.C., requesting meetings with U.S. Senate Democrats and attempting to prevent a quorum needed to pass bills in Texas.

Tommy Buser-Clancy, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas, said laws to keep people from voting should alarm all Texans.

"Those bills made it harder to vote, they made it scarier to vote," Buser-Clancy asserted. "For all Texas voters, but particularly communities of color and individuals with disabilities."

Senate Bill 7 would have outlawed voting mechanisms used in 2020 in Harris County, the Houston area, including a ban on drive-through voting centers and 24-hour voting, and effectively eliminating the popular Black churches' "Souls to the Polls" get-out-the-vote efforts.

Meanwhile, Buser-Clancy noted the ACLU is preparing its case to defend Hervis Rogers, a Black Texan released from custody Saturday night after his arrest last week on allegations of illegal voting. Buser-Clancy said the ACLU sees the Rogers case as a textbook example of how systems intersect to undermine fundamental rights and target minorities.

"Mr. Rogers made headlines in 2020 after he waited for over six hours to vote," Buser-Clancy explained. "He was simply trying to do what he thought was his civic duty, and he was proud to wait in line and thought he was doing the right thing."

According to the Texas Attorney General's office, the 62-year-old Rogers was ineligible to vote because he was on felony parole for a 25-year sentence for burglary.

The ACLU calls the officials' actions "political theater," meant to send a message of fear.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.

References:  
Senate Bill 7

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