July 13, 2021: Voting rights

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Eric Gay / AP

In response to renewed pressure from Texas Republicans for restrictive new voting laws in the state, activists are holding a voting rights day at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday.

Youth on the ground organizers in Texas say the day of action is, in part, meant to send a message to lawmakers that the state’s youth – who are increasingly diverse than their older counterparts – will not back down when it comes to protecting their right to vote.

The Day of Action is co-hosted by a number of civic engagement organizations including MOVE Texas, Common Cause Texas, Texas Rising, Voto Latino, Jolt Action, ACLU of Texas, Texas Civil Rights Project and more.

Topping their list of concerns, activists say, is a proposal that would end expansive practices such as drive-thru and 24-hour voting.

“A lot of my friends and peers are talking about this as a big issue,” said Katya Ehresman, a 22-year-old graduate from the University of Texas at Austin. “Some are kind of politically active, but more so, they’re just angry and affected.”

Ehresman, who spent 26 hours on the Texas Capitol over the weekend and testified against the proposed measures on the Texas House and Senate floors, said his friends “remember struggling to find time to queue to vote and are now anecdotally [asking] Why [lawmakers] would like to get rid of early voting or drive-by voting.

“We see this legislation as a direct attack on the massive increase in youth participation that we saw last year,” said Charlie Bonner, a 25-year-old spokesperson for MOVE Texas, an engagement organization. young voters who registered more than 50,000 voters between the ages of 18 and 30 before the 2020 elections.

Eric Gay / AP
Eric Gay / AP

Bonner highlighted the increased diversity of young people in Texas and underscored the danger of limiting these voters’ access to the polls.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have an electorate that matches the lived experiences of people here. We want to build an electorate that reflects the rich diversity of this beautiful state, but instead we have these measures that seek to restrict access to allow the smallest electorate possible to retain power, ”he said. .

Also on Tuesday, activists from Jolt Action, a group that seeks to increase civic participation of Latinos in Texas, dressed in quinceanera attire at a press conference outside Capitol Hill. In a statement on Tuesday, the group said the proposed legislation “would further restrict young voters of color from exercising their right to vote.”

Eric Gay / AP
Eric Gay / AP
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