More than $500k raised for Texas Democrats who fled state

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Texas Voting Rights (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Texas Voting Rights (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

More than $500.000 has been raised for the Texas Democrats who fled to Washington DC to stop the Republicans in the state legislature from going forward with legislation restricting voting.

The support has come via Beto O’Rourke’s Powered By People, which works to register voters in the Lone Star state.

The group had raised $526,780 from 14,654 donors as of Wednesday. Mr O’Rourke has used his high profile among Democrats and his database from previous campaigns to solicit donations. The funds will be used to pay for living expenses such as hotel rooms for the lawmakers during the time they stay out of Texas.

“The Texas House Democrats are using their political power to stop voter suppression and lead on expanding voting rights,” Powered By People states on its website, asking for support for the over 50 lawmakers who may be arrested when they finally return to the state.

“They are taking the extraordinary step of leaving the state and are making their way to our nation’s capital to ensure we can pass the For the People Act—the single greatest opportunity to protect the right to vote in America,” the group adds.

Texas Republicans are pushing legislation that would ban drive-through and 24-hour voting, as well as require ID for mail-in ballots.

The group of self-exiled lawmakers met with Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday. They are urging the passage of the federally proposed bill–the For The People Act–which would overhaul US elections.

The Senate Filibuster is a major obstacle to the bill’s possible success.

Mr O’Rourke tweeted on Wednesday: “President Biden, if we truly face the greatest threat to our democracy since the Civil War (as you said yesterday), then you must lead the effort to change the filibuster to allow for voting rights legislation to pass. It is our only hope.”

“I know what you have done comes with great sacrifice, both personal and political,” Ms Harris told the lawmakers on Tuesday. “Defending the right of the American people to vote is as American as apple pie.”

“I have in mind that person who was working two or three jobs and needs to have the ability to [vote early],” Ms Harris added. “I’m thinking about that single parent who has his or her kids in the backseat and needs to be able to have a drive-through or a dropbox to vote. I’m thinking about the American with [a] disability who needs to have the option of voting by mail.”

The Republican Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, called on President Biden to stop criticising the state’s proposed election reform bill and to stop spreading “misinformation” about it.

“He’s chastising us for making it easy to vote but hard to cheat. And once again, President Biden ignores the facts,” Mr Abbott said on Wednesday.

“The fact is that Texas is passing a law that expands, not reduces, the hours of early voting,” he added. “That’s more than many states, including President Biden’s home state of Delaware, which has zero hours of early voting.”

“In Texas, for example, the Republican legislature wants to allow partisan poll watchers to intimidate voters and impartial poll workers,” Mr Biden said in a speech on Tuesday. “They want voters to dive further, and be able to be in a position where they wonder who’s watching them.”

“To wait longer to vote … [T]hey want to make it so hard and inconvenient that they hope people don’t vote at all,” the president added.

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