During the last few minutes of her 15 hour filibuster, Democrat Senator to the Texas State Legislature, Carol Alvarado, asked, "Do we want access to our electoral process to be more difficult for people with disabilities, or do we want to remove barriers for them? For communities of color, do we want to defend the tremendous progress that we've made in civil rights and equality or chip away at their voting rights one Senate bill at a time?"
For the Republican majority in the Texas Senate, apparently the answers are, "Yes, we do." When SB-1 passed after Senator Alvarado's filibuster along party lines, voting barriers were put in place for communities of color and people with disabilities.
Voting expansion created during the pandemic were originally designed to make voting safer. By adding hours to voting times, and weeks to early voting, voters were able to spread out their presence at the polls, thus increasing safety.
Drive-through voting which took place primarily in large Texas cities such as Austin and Houston, Texas, allowed for even more personal safety of both voters and poll workers. As a bonus, it allowed more people with disabilities to vote. Extended absentee voting also benefitted people who are homebound and/or suffer from disabilities.
Without even arguing the purpose behind bill SB-1 and others like it, the actual result is to limit voting options and access to voters with disabilities, those with compromised immune systems, anyone incapable of standing in long lines for hours, and workers who work longer than normal hours.
The bill also allows for the closing of certain polling places, primarily in minority districts. It shortens early voting and forbids drive-through voting. The alleged purpose is to limit voter fraud. However, no such fraud has been found in investigations of the 2020 election.
Carol Alvarado stated at the beginning of her effort, "President Lyndon B. Johnson said, 'the Voting Rights Act struck away the last major shackle of the fierce and ancient bond of slavery.' SB-1 is a regressive step back in the direction of that dark and painful history."
What did result from extended early voting times, drive-through voting, extended absentee voting, and more polling stations, was the highest turn-out of voters Texas has seen in decades. In a Democracy, which we in the U.S. strive for and claim to be, voting is the primary inalienable right. When voting is restricted, how is Democracy served?
What is a Democracy? Is it a system that encourages voting, or discourages voting? Only its citizens can decide, and they must convey that decision to their lawmakers.
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