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President Joe Biden blasts Texas’ restrictive voting bill as ‘assault on democracy’


President Joe Biden this weekend blasted Texas Republicans’ recent effort to restrict voting as “un-American,” arguing the state Senate seeks to join other GOP-led states in using trumped up claims of widespread voter fraud to make it harder for people of color and low-income Americans to vote.

The state’s Senate Bill 7, which passed Sunday, calls for a ban of drive-through voting and 24-hour voting — used in 2020 by about 140,000 voters in Harris County, which includes Houston, CBS News reported. The bill also stiffens rules on absentee voting and voter identification.

If approved by Gov. Greg Abbott, the law would make it a felony for local or state election officials to send mail-in ballot applications to voters who didn’t specifically request them — another practice implemented by Harris County during the COVID-19 pandemic. The county is made up of nearly 44% claiming Latino descent and 20% who are Black, according to U.S. Census data.

“It’s part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year — and often disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans,” Biden said of the Texas bill. “It’s wrong and un-American. In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote.”

Biden repeated a call on Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would bolster laws on ethics and campaign finance, create automatic voter registration and expand access to early and absentee voting that millions of Americans of both parties relied on during the pandemic. Biden added that he continued “to call on all Americans, of every party and persuasion, to stand up for our democracy and protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections.”

Former President Donald Trump — who has repeatedly alleged widespread voter fraud and irregularities impacted the race without providing evidence — beat Biden by about 631,000 votes in Texas in November, a 5.6% margin compared to his 9-point victory over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Biden won 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232, and Biden won the national popular vote by more than 7 million votes, flipping several key battleground states.

Republican state lawmakers in Georgia, Florida and dozens of other states have since advanced restrictive voting laws to limit absentee voting, ballot drop boxes or early voting in the wake of Trump’s repeated claims that the White House was stolen. The claims helped lead to Trump’s second impeachment over charges he incited a mob of his followers to attack the U.S. Capitol — a deadly, failed attempt to stop a joint session of Congress from certifying Biden’s win on Jan. 6.

Facing criticism from Democrats and voting rights advocates who argue that state and local officials can point to no widespread fraud in the state, Texas state Rep. Briscoe Cain, the House Elections Committee chair, said earlier this month the bill would “protect every single voter in Texas.”

Proponents argue the bill expands penalties for election violations, protects poll watchers’ rights and bans paid vote harvesting.

Cain claimed measure ensures “that we have an equal and uniform application of our election code and to protect people from being taken advantage of. We don’t need to wait for bad things to happen in order to try and protect and secure these elections.”

Abbott last week said, “We must have trust in the outcome of our elections. That’s why election integrity is an emergency item this session.”

Local, state and federal election officials of both major parties — from town clerks and county boards to secretaries of state and judges appointed by Trump himself — argue no widespread fraud or irregularities affected the 2020 presidential race.

Trump’s own Homeland Security experts called the election “the most secure in U.S. history,” and said they found zero evidence that polling machines were tampered with, a frequent false claim spread by Trump lawyers, Republican politicians and followers on social media. Trump’s own attorney general, William Barr, said the Justice Department investigated and found no evidence of widespread fraud.

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