AUSTIN, Texas — Early voting for Texas’ May 1 municipal elections began on Monday — but even in the midst of local elections, Republicans are continuing to attack the right to vote, with a battery of voter suppression bills moving through the Texas legislature. Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress are fighting to pass the For the People Act to guard against these attacks and protect our constitutional right to vote.
Texans smashed voting records in the 2020 elections — including obliterating previous early voting records, with more than 9.7 million Texans taking advantage of more flexible voting options and several weeks of early voting to make their voices heard. However, local elections like this month’s are typically a different story, with turnout sometimes dipping below 10% despite the key on-the-ground impacts of local elections for communities across Texas. Now, Republican voter suppression threatens to make voting even harder and further reduce turnout.
In the wake of last year’s groundswell of democracy, Republicans are trying to gut Texans’ constitutional right to vote, focusing their voter suppression efforts on communities of color, voters with disabilities, and working people. In particular, Senate Bill 7 aims to limit early voting options, even as this wider window makes getting to the ballot box easier for working people — a group made up disproportionately of voters of color, and one that includes frontline workers who have been working intense hours all year in the fight against COVID-19. Meanwhile, House Bill 6, up for a final vote in the Texas House as early as next week, opens the door to Jim Crow style voter intimidation from partisan poll watchers, and targets voters with disabilities by making it harder to vote by mail.
In contrast to racist, unconstitutional voter suppression efforts by Republicans from Texas to Georgia, Democrats in Congress are leading the fight to restore voting rights across the U.S. The For the People Act — hailed by advocates as “most significant voting rights and democracy reform in more than half a century” — would restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, guarantee free and fair elections without voter suppression across the country, end extreme partisan gerrymandering, and make key campaign finance reforms. As Republicans across the country attempt to cling to power by suppressing the vote, these changes will guard against these assaults on our democracy, and ensure all eligible American voters can make their voice heard.
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“As early voting continues for the May 1 municipal elections, I encourage all Texas voters to go to the polls and make their voices heard. Texans voted in record numbers in the 2020 election. However, right now, Texas Republicans are waging an all-out war on our right to vote, including trying to slash early voting with racist voter suppression bill SB 7. Republicans have seen the writing on the wall, and they are trying to cling to power the only way they can: by stopping us from voting.
“By attacking our right to vote, Republicans are not only attacking our communities and our future — they’re also hacking away at the basis of American democracy. Democrats, advocates, and people from communities across Texas are fighting tooth and nail to stop these voter suppression bills from going through. I am grateful to President Biden, Vice President Harris, and our Democrats in Congress for their work to defend voting rights with the For the People Act. Democracy will win. We will not be silenced.”