Beto O’Rourke has shared a series of videos in which he outlines why Texas Republicans’ strict voting law is meant to suppress Black and Latino voters.
In three videos posted over the weekend, the former Democratic politician who represented Texas’ 16th congressional district between 2013 and 2019 went into detail about why and how the bill that Democrats walked out of to prevent a quorum being possible is something he considers to be active voter suppression throughout the state. Last week, rumours circulated that he intended to run for governor of the state.
He shared the videos originally on 29 May, but they gained traction on Twitter early Monday.
In the first video, Mr O’Rourke, who represented Texas’ 16th Congressional District between 2013 and 2019, said the Texas state bill is “totally at peace with the January 6 insurrection, the breaching of the United States Capitol” and compared it to the same strain of thought that prevented most Republicans lawmakers from supporting a commission to investigate the Capitol riots.
“Not even allowing a vote on creating the commission that would find out exactly what happened, why it happened and how we would prevent it in the future,” Mr O’Rourke said.
The current bill going through the Texas legislature allows for “elections to be overturned by merely the allegation of voter fraud”, O’Rourke said in the video.
“We could lose the ability to choose who will serve us in the White House, who will be our congressperson,” he said of the bill. “That's what's at stake right now, and that’s why I wanted to bring what’s happening in Texas to your attention.”
In the next video, he discussed the issues that occur when identification regulations tighten around voting.
“A lot of our fellow citizens do not have a driver’s license, don’t have a day to day need for ID,” O’Rourke said, bringing up a case study of someone who had gotten into contact with him about her 80-year-old mother, who was not permitted to drive nor could get alternative, qualifying identification.
He added that it affected other kinds of people, such as “the young, the old, those with disabilities, those who don’t own cars, which often correlates with those who are at a lower income level. In other words, those living below the poverty line.”
He added their was a racial element to this effort to disenfranchise people, saying “when you demographically at those who do not have the kinds of ID that are valid under Texas voting law, they tend to be Black, they tend to be Latino, they tend to be communities of colour, that are historically targeted by voter suppression.”
He elaborated on this racial targeting he believed the bill had in the third video he posted, which focused on the closing of places to cast your ballot. According to O’Rourke, there have been 750 polling places closed since 2013, a record compared to other states.
He mentioned a six-hour line at a polling place at Texas Southern University in Houston, a majority Black area. He said, “which common sense is going to tell us is going to cause more people to decide not to vote.”
He listed numerous reasons why people might opt not to stand in a six hour line, such as health problems, not having the time via work and school commitments.
Other states, such as Georgia and Florida, have passed similar legislation limiting voting rights in the wake of Donald Trump’s 2020 loss.
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