Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday met with 16 Democratic members of the Texas Legislature who successfully delayed a voter restriction bill last month by staging a walkout an hour before the midnight approval deadline.
Senate Bill 7 would have tightened what are already some of the country’s strictest voting laws, and specifically targeted balloting methods that were employed for the first time last year through restrictive voting hours, new authority to partisan poll watchers, a ban on drive-through voting, and stringent rules for voting by mail. Republicans have defended SB 7 as an “election integrity” measure meant to combat fraudulent votes, even though there is no evidence of widespread fraud.
The Vice President commended the lawmakers and praised them as “American patriots” who had fought to preserve a fundamental democratic right. She went on to describe Texas Republicans’ push for sweeping new voting restrictions as a key illustration of the need to restore federal oversight of elections.
“What we are seeing are examples of an attempt to marginalize and take from people, a right that has already been given. We are not asking for the bestowal of a right. We are talking about preservation,” Ms. Harris told the group in the Roosevelt Room. “That is the right of citizenship. And it’s that fundamental.”
In her remarks, Ms. Harris specifically addressed the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision that effectively allow states to change election laws without advance federal approval
“We have seen exactly what we feared when that case came down in 2013. Because that case was an opening of a door to allow states to do what otherwise we have protected against, which is states putting in place laws that are designed, in many cases quite intentionally, to make it difficult for people to vote,” Ms. Harris said. “And so this is what we’ve seen over and over again, and what’s happening right now in Texas is, of course, a very clear and current example of that.”
Since President Joe Biden’s announcement that the Vice President would lead the charge on voting rights, Harris has promised to protect: “Americans with disabilities, seniors, students, people of every walk of life.”