By Kenny Stancil
Just weeks after Texas Democrats defeated a sweeping voter suppression bill by fleeing the state to deny Republican lawmakers the quorum necessary to proceed to a vote, far-right Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday announced another special session, prompting pro-democracy advocates to denounce the Lone Star State GOP’s relentless assault on voting rights.
“While a deadly pandemic and an energy crisis threaten our way of life in Texas, Gov. Abbott remains focused on stripping away the rights of thousands of Texans,” Stephanie Gómez, associate director of Common Cause Texas, said in a statement.
“Texas is already the most difficult place to vote in the entire country, but the governor and partisan legislators want to make it even harder for us to cast a ballot and have our vote be counted,” Gómez continued. “The decision to call a second special session is nothing more than a partisan power grab to distract us from the real challenges our communities face, like taking action to slow the spread of the Delta variant and address our failing energy grid.”
The upcoming special session of the Texas state Legislature—this summer’s second—is set to begin on Saturday, August 7.
Prior to the aborted July meeting, only one other special session had been called in the past five years and just five special sessions had been called over the past decade, according to Texas legislative records.
The right-wing governor has made clear that the purpose of his special sessions is to enact restrictive voting legislation.
“I will continue to call special session, after special session, after special session every single month until we address and vote on these bills,” Abbott said in an interview shortly after Texas Democrats left the state on July 12.
Last month’s special session came after state Democratic lawmakers in late May successfully thwarted the Texas GOP’s voter suppression bill for the first time—by walking off the House floor, thereby denying the chamber’s Republican majority quorum and bringing the regular session to a close.
“The governor and partisan legislators waging war on our right to vote failed to pass anti-democratic legislation in the regular session and the last special session,” Gómez said Thursday. “Texans are ready to make sure they fail again.”
Dozens of Texas Democrats, as well as more than a hundred lawmakers from other states, have gathered in Washington, D.C., where they are urging Democratic members of Congress to act immediately to protect U.S. democracy amid the GOP’s nationwide attacks on the franchise.
Although state lawmakers and progressive advocates have not yet persuaded Senate Democrats to scrap the filibuster and pass the For the People Act, a trio of congressional Democrats did take one step toward advancing democracy this week by unveiling a bill described by its lead Senate sponsor as the “first-ever affirmative federal voting rights guarantee for all U.S. citizens.”
As Common Dreams reported, the Right to Vote Act—introduced Wednesday in the House by Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) and in the upper chamber by Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.)—would for the first time establish a statutory right to vote in federal elections.
If passed, the legislation would enable Americans to mount legal challenges to any policies that make it harder to cast ballots, and it would counter voter suppression efforts by requiring state officials to prove claims of electoral fraud.
Gómez, for her part, said that “in Texas, we cherish our freedom to vote and have a voice in our government. We believe there is nothing more sacred than our constitutionally protected right to have a say on the issues that impact our everyday lives.”
“Common Cause Texas will continue to fight day and night for our voting rights,” she added, “no matter how many special sessions the governor calls.”
This article is republished from Common Dreams under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.