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Congressional Democrats Target Texas In Efforts To Strengthen Voting Rights Act

Witnesses at a House Judiciary Committee Hearing in Houston pointed to renewed state and local discrimination against minority voters.

Committee hearing
Members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties taking testimony at Texas Southern University. From left to right: Rep. Jerry Nadler (committee chair), Rep. Steve Cohen (subcommittee chair), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Rep. Sylvia Garcia.

Congressional Democrats are looking to put teeth back in the Voting Rights Act, six years after the Supreme Court gutted a key enforcement provision through its ruling in Shelby County v. Holder. Members of the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the issue at Houston's Texas Southern University on Friday.

Much of the testimony focused on how the state's Voter ID law discourages minorities from voting.

"What's occurring in voter identification is really criminal in our state," said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP. "Because right here in Harris County, we had so much bellicosity coming from public officials threatening to prosecute individuals wrongfully if they made a mistake on filing an affidavit saying that they were not able to obtain an identification." That may have been a reference to former Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, who made such suggestions ahead of the 2016 and 2018 elections.

Other witnesses testified to recent efforts to suppress minority voting by local governments, including the City of Pasadena and Waller County.


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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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