Joe Biden has condemned a Texas state bill as “false and un-American” that is due to go into effect. The president said he “attacks sacred suffrage”, especially among minorities.
The bill, known as SB7, restricts actions like drive-through and Sunday voting. It would also empower party-political election observers. Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, has announced that he will sign it. Democrats have said they will challenge it in court.
The bill follows measures in other Republican-controlled states where sponsors only insist on protecting themselves from electoral fraud, but which most analysts see as a goal of restricting voting by segments of the population who tend to vote democratically .
According to the New York-based Brennan Center for Justice, nearly 400 such bills were filed in 14 states in the United States this year.
Biden has already blown up such measures, for example calling laws in Georgia “Jim Crow in the 21st century,” a reference to the system of racial segregation that existed for 100 years after the civil war.
As in other states, large corporations have warned Texas that SB7 could harm democracy and the economy. Republicans have dismissed such objections and, in some cases, ripped business leaders out for their comments.
The two Republicans who put SB7 together, Texas Senator Bryan Hughes and Briscoe Cain’s representative, called the bill “one of the most comprehensive and sensible electoral reform bills” in state history.
In a joint statement, they said: “Even if the national media minimizes the importance of electoral integrity, the Texan legislature has not subscribed to the headlines or signaling corporate virtues.”
Biden countered, “Today Texas lawmakers tabled a bill that would work with Georgia and Florida to advance state law that challenges sacred suffrage. It’s part of an attack on democracy that we’ve seen far too many times this year – and that is often disproportionately directed against black and brown Americans.
“It’s wrong and un-American. In the 21st century, we should make it easier, not harder, for everyone who is eligible to vote to vote. “
Republicans acted to tighten electoral laws as the man Biden beat in the presidential election, Donald Trump, continued to dominate GOP politics, claiming his defeat was the result of mass electoral fraud, a lie that is repeatedly out of court was thrown.
On Saturday, Biden said Congress should pass two federal measures, the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Both face failure in a 50:50 split in the Senate, and where key Democrats have stated they will not support measures to abolish the filibuster, the 60-vote threshold up to which the minority can block legislation .
Trump’s lies about the election fueled his supporters’ deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. On Friday, Senate Republicans used the filibuster to block the formation of a 9/11-style commission to investigate this riot.
Regarding the Texas bill, Biden said he “keeps going[d] To call on all Americans of every convincing party to stand up for our democracy and to protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections. “
Prominent Texas Democrats were just as quick to register their dismay.
Julián Castro, a former US housing secretary and candidate for the presidential run, said: “The final draft of the Texas voter suppression bill is as bad as possible.”
SB7, he said, “restricts registration, absenteeism, weekend voting, and voting hours … ends roadside voting and advises against driving to voting” and includes a “disability check” for mailed ballots.
“We have to beat SB7,” said Castro.
Former Congressman and Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, who also ran for presidential nomination and, like Castro, is seen as a potential candidate for governor, thanked Biden for supporting voting rights in the state.
“As you said, we should make it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote,” he wrote. “The only way to do this now is to pass the For the People Act.”
Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, said he would force a vote on the measure in June.
The Texas Democratic Party called SB7 a “Frankenstein Monster”. In a statement sent by email, Rose Clouston, the party’s electoral protection director, said: “A fundamental principle of our democracy is that voters choose their leaders. For now, however, the Texas Republicans are trying to handpick their voters. “
Sarah Labowitz, director of politics and advocacy for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, told the New York Times that SB7 was “a ruthless law” because it “appeals to skin color voters and voters with disabilities in a state that is already the most difficult place to choose in the country. “
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