With All Eyes on Texas Voter Suppression Bills, Democrats Announce $25 Million Ballot Access Initiativeby Greater Diversity News July 9, 2021
Before a planned meeting with more than a dozen civil rights organizations and only days prior to a scheduled massive rally in Texas against suppression, Vice President Kamala Harris announced a $25 million Democratic Party investment for voter education and access.
Vice President Harris trumpeted the investment at Howard University in Washington, D.C., just before a meeting she and President Joe Biden planned to attend with the NAACP, National Urban League, the National Action Network, and others.
It also comes as Democrats attempt to blunt the voter suppression laws and efforts in Republican-led states.
“This campaign is grounded in the firm belief that everyone’s vote matters,” Vice President Harris declared in announcing the “I Will Vote” effort by the Democratic National Committee.
“We are fighting back,” she declared.
At the “President and Vice President’s direction, the DNC will invest $25 million in voter education, voter protection, targeted voter registration, and technology to make voting more accessible and to fight back against Republicans’ unprecedented voter suppression efforts,” the DNC wrote in a statement.
Lawmakers in state legislatures around the country have reportedly enacted about 30 laws in recent months to restrict access to the ballot box.
Political watchers said the new laws make it more difficult to cast an absentee or mail-in ballot.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott plans to convene a special session of the state legislature where he said he would re-introduce several voting restrictions that Democratic legislators killed recently.
Those against Texas’ voter suppression efforts plan to hold a massive rally outside of the statehouse on Monday, July 12.
“We are doing our job of making certain that every Texas, every America, has a right to vote in this country, and it’s not being suppressed under some fake narrative, called voter integrity,” Texas
Sen. Royce West, who serves the Dallas area, said in a statement.
Another Dallas-area Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Rhetta Bowers of Rowlett, called the GOP’s efforts awful.
She told reporters that their bill would “strip people of their one basic right to use their voice and their vote.”
Charlie Bonner, the communications director for the Austin-based nonpartisan and nonprofit MOVE Texas Civic Fund and MOVE Texas Action Fund, told NNPA Newswire that Texas is Ground
Zero in the fight for the freedom to vote.
“This is a critical moment in our democracy. Texas already has the most restrictive voter laws in the country, with its intentional barriers set up especially for young voters of color, and they are doubling down on them,” Bonner continued.
MOVE seeks to ensure that voters – particularly those 18-to-30-years-old – have the information and resources needed to cast ballots. The organization also aims to protect the young electorate.
“It is a sad state of affairs, and it shows how low things have gone in this cynical attempt to hold onto power,” Bonner stated.
He added that the work of MOVE already has resulted in some success with depleting certain voter restrictions.
“We were active in getting the bill killed in the last legislative session, and the voting rights movement here has grown really strong out of necessity,” Bonner exclaimed.
“We will be mobilizing heavily to make sure that Texans from every corner of the state share their stories about voter suppression. Many of the provisions in the earlier laws were taken out because more people shared their stories and talked about the impact they have had. People thought we couldn’t get the bill killed the last time, but it shows how powerful this group is where even in a state like Texas, we keep showing up and we keep showing how powerful we are, and we keep working.”
The Biden-Harris administration has continued to push the For the People Act, which contains a host of anti-voter suppression proposals.
The President has also championed the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which expands the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Earlier this year, President Biden signed an executive order on voting rights where he authorized the federal government to increase voter education efforts, come up with plans to expand voting access, boost the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department and update all online systems for voter registration.
Last month, the Justice Department sued Georgia over its new voting rights law, alleging that the soon-to-be-enacted policies would disproportionately affect Black voters.
“While this broad assault against voting rights is sadly not unprecedented, it is taking on new forms. It is no longer just about a fight over who gets to vote and making it easier for eligible voters to vote. It is about who gets to count the vote and whether your vote counts at all,” President Biden related in a statement.