The Texas Senate voted Thursday to pass a bill that would further restrict voting rights in the state. Their vote came just after Texas Senator Carol Alvarado ended her 15-hour filibuster to oppose the bill.
The bill, SB 1, was passed in a 18-11 vote along party lines.
SB 1 would prohibit drive-thru voting, ban 24-hour voting and extended hours, and make it illegal for election officials to send voters unsolicited mail ballot applications. The bill would place additional restrictions on mail voting, including more stringent ID requirements for mail-in ballots. It would also empower partisan poll watchers, increase video surveillance, and impose harsher restrictions on assistance available to voters.
“Senate Bill 1 slowly but surely chips away at our democracy,” said Sen. Alvarado during her filibuster of the bill. “It adds rather than removes barriers for Texas seniors, persons with disabilities, African Americans, Asian and Latino voters from the political process.”
Sen. Alvarado began her filibuster of the bill on Wednesday night and continued for 15 hours into Thursday morning. She stood for the full 15 hours and did not eat, drink, or use the restroom during the entire time so as not to break the filibuster.
Sen. Alvarado spent the 15 hours discussing how SB 1 would suppress the right to vote for many Texans and would disproportionately affect people of color, low-income people, and people with disabilities.
“President Lyndon B. Johnson said the Voting Rights Act struck away the last major shackle of the fierce and ancient bond of slavery,” she said. “Senate Bill 1 is a regressive step back in the direction of that dark and painful history.”
Other civil rights groups also criticized the bill’s provisions that would limit voting access for underrepresented communities.
“Election measures lose any semblance of integrity if they cross the line into interfering with the reasonable, necessary, and legally protected accommodations the millions of Texans living with disabilities need to make our voice heard in our democracy,” said Chase Bearden, deputy executive director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities.
At a press conference in Washington, DC Thursday, faith leaders and Texas legislators with the Poor People’s Campaign delivered remarks to protest the wave of voter suppression in Texas and across the country.
“This attack on our democracy, it is in peril, and we have to lean on our deepest moral traditions that are about defending the vulnerable, that are about ensuring a voice for absolutely everybody, that are about lifting from the bottom, so that everybody can rise,” said Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis at the press conference.
“They will use the law to try to intimidate voters from our communities,” said Representative Jarvis Johnson of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus.
“The message has to be sent that this is not going to be allowed, and we will not stand by idly and quietly.”
Sources: CNN 8/12/21; Ms. Magazine 8/12/21; Texas Legislature; NBC News 8/12/21; Texas Tribune 8/12/21; Twitter 8/12/2; KXAN 7/9/21