For Immediate Release – September 7, 2021
Voto Latino, Texas Alliance for Retired Americans, Texas AFT file lawsuit to protect all Texans’ right to vote
Austin, Texas – Voto Latino, LULAC Texas, the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans, and the Texas American Federation of Teachers today filed suit to block SB 1, Texas’s draconian voting law that is one of the most restrictive of its kind.
The four groups, which collectively represent millions of Texans, contend that the proposed new law’s core provisions will deeply degrade the democratic cornerstones of representation and fairness, particularly for people of color and older Texans.
The law limits early voting hours, cuts local options for casting ballots, restricts mail-in voting, and allows partisan poll watchers unprecedented access to polling places. Each of these provisions is designed to prevent Texas voters–particularly voters of color– from casting a ballot.
“We should be showing our students that Texas values voter participation and strives to make it more accessible. This law is an embarrassment, one that students will see as taking us backward to a time when many voices and their votes were repressed. While our students are learning about past discriminatory voting practices, they are confronted today with a life lesson that proves the adage that those who don’t learn their history are doomed to repeat it. This law sends a harmful and ominous message about our students’ future ability to participate in our democracy.”
Zeph Capo, Texas AFT president.
The new bill’s restrictions would tighten what are already some of America’s most restrictive voting rules, with elected officials and voting rights experts noting that the bill’s provisions could specifically target people of color.
“Instead of celebrating record turnout in 2020, in an election that the GOP-led government certified as fair and legitimate, Republicans are now pushing bogus claims about voting fraud to justify restrictive voter suppression laws. These laws are in direct conflict with our Constitutional rights of free, fair, equitable access to the voting booth. SB 1 is an arduous law designed to limit Tejanos’ ability to exercise their full citizenship,” explained Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO of Voto Latino. “Not only are we filing suit to protect the right to vote for all people of color, and the additional 250,000 young Latino Tejanos who will reach voting age in 2022, but to protect every Texan’s right to vote. A thriving, healthy democracy demands maximum participation by all eligible voters. It’s time lawmakers stop the assault on voting rights and instead compete for our votes with ideas.”
“Older people take the right to vote seriously, and this law will make it much more difficult for Texas seniors to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” said Gene Lantz, President of the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans. “Seniors rely on early voting and mail ballots to vote without standing in long lines on Election Day. Many older Texans also have physical limitations and may decide not to vote out of fear of intimidation or harassment at the polls. This law is an affront to democracy, and we are suing to make sure everyone’s voices are heard at the ballot box.”
“This law is part of a dangerous, coordinated national campaign to keep millions of Americans from voting,” said Richard Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Our members are united in the belief that we should be making it easier for voters to cast a ballot, not more difficult.”
Today’s lawsuit is also bolstered by darkening economic storm clouds gathering over Texas with the passage of this law. In recent months, economists in Texas and nationally have forecast that the legislation would badly hurt the state’s economy and jobs – and so the wallets of hardworking Texas families will be hit hard, much as an earlier anti-voting bill is already impacting Georgia’s state economy and citizens. One recent analysis predicts that a similar backlash to the Texas law from companies and organizations moving business from Texas could cost the state nearly $17 billion in revenue from tourism and economic development and the loss of about 150,000 jobs by 2025.
“We should be showing our students that Texas values voter participation and strives to make it more accessible,” said Zeph Capo, Texas AFT president. “This law is an embarrassment, one that students will see as taking us backward to a time when many voices and their votes were repressed. While our students are learning about past discriminatory voting practices, they are confronted today with a life lesson that proves the adage that those who don’t learn their history are doomed to repeat it. This law sends a harmful and ominous message about our students’ future ability to participate in our democracy.”
Voto Latino is a grassroots political organization focused on educating and empowering a new generation of Latinx voters, as well as creating a more robust and inclusive democracy. Through innovative digital campaigns, culturally relevant programs, and authentic voices, we shepherd the Latinx community towards the full realization of its political power.
The Texas Alliance for Retired Americans is a statewide organization with 145,038 members. It is a state affiliate of the Alliance for Retired Americans, a grassroots advocacy organization that works to strengthen retirement security for all.
The Texas American Federation of Teachers represents over 66,000 teachers, paraprofessionals, support personnel, and higher-education employees across the state. Texas AFT is affiliated with the 1.7-million-member American Federation of Teachers and AFL-CIO.