Due to the outbreak, meetings and conferences that would have taken place in person are now on screens. Plans for at least next week have been frozen.
The fight for voting rights
After former President Donald J. Trump has returned in recent months to make false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, Republican lawmakers in many states have moved forward to pass laws that make it harder to vote and that change the way elections are run, frustrating Democrats and even some election officials from their own party.
- A key subject: Election rules and procedures have become central issues in US politics. As of June 21, lawmakers had passed 28 new laws in 17 states to make the voting process more difficult, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a research institute.
- The basic measures: Restrictions vary by state, but may include limiting the use of ballot boxes, adding identification requirements for voters requesting mail-in ballots, and removing local laws that allow automatic registration. for postal voting.
- No more extreme measures: Some measures go beyond changing the voting pattern, including changing the rules regarding the electoral college and judicial elections, cracking down on citizen-led voting initiatives, and banning private donations that provide resources for the vote. administration of elections.
- Repel: This Republican effort led Democrats in Congress to find a way to pass federal election laws. A sweeping franchise bill passed the House in March, but faces tough hurdles in the Senate, including from West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III. Republicans have remained united against the proposal and even if the bill becomes law, it would most likely face significant legal challenges.
- Florida: The measures here include limiting the use of drop boxes, adding more identification requirements for mail ballots, requiring voters to request one mail ballot for each election, limiting who can collect and deposit ballots, and empowering partisan observers during the counting process.
- Texas: Texas Democrats successfully blocked the broad state ballot bill, known as SB 7, in a late-night walkout and are launching a major nationwide registration program. the state focused on racially diverse communities. But Republicans across the state have pledged to return in a special session and pass a similar voting bill. SB 7 included new restrictions on absentee voting; granted broad autonomy and new authority to observers who favor polls; increased penalties for errors or offenses committed by election officials; and prohibits both driving and 24-hour voting.
- Other states: The Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature has passed a bill that would limit the distribution of mail-in ballots. The bill, which includes removing voters from the state’s permanent early voting list if they don’t vote at least once every two years, may be just the first in a series of restrictions of votes to be adopted there. Republicans in Georgia enacted sweeping new election laws in March that restrict ballot boxes and make it a crime to distribute water within certain limits of a polling station. And Iowa has imposed new limits, including reducing the early voting period and in-person voting hours on election day.
“Everyone is jostling because the awareness is hitting that this new strain is among us and is very contagious even among people who have been vaccinated,” said Gina Hinojosa, an Austin state representative.
On Tuesday morning, the delegation met by video conference with Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the third House Democrat. Mr Clyburn, Ms Hinojosa said, remains optimistic that the Senate can pass a federal voting rights overhaul before early August, when the current special session of the Texas Legislature will expire. (Mr Abbott has vowed to call a new one if Democrats don’t return by August 6, at the end of the session.)
Mr Clyburn encouraged Texans, they said, to push for a key measure in John Lewis’s voting rights bill – the Justice Department’s preclearance requirements, under which a certain many mainly southern states had to receive federal approval before changing the vote. laws – transferred to the more comprehensive law for the people, which was passed by the House and remains blocked in the Senate.
A representative for Mr. Clyburn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Later on Tuesday, the Texas Democratic delegation, whose members now undergo daily virus tests, held a virtual press conference, reiterating the long history of battles for civil rights and voting rights and reaffirming their commitment to push Congress and the White House to pass federal legislation.
But the members were confined to pixelated Zoom boxes, and some of them simply had avatars appearing when they spoke, or black boxes with their names half obscured.
“We have a very strong program in terms of continuing outreach to members of Congress,” said State Representative Ron Reynolds, who represents the Houston area. “We are still working diligently through the Covid protocols that we have already put in place. “