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Texas Civic Groups File Lawsuit Against State of Texas Over Anti-Voter Bill, SB1

LWV Texas  | Published on 9/3/2021

AUSTIN, TX — Today, the League of Women Voters of Texas and partner civil rights organizations filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas, challenging Senate Bill 1, an omnibus anti-voter bill expected to be signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott.

“For democracy to work, it must include all voices. SB 1 is an extremist anti-voter bill that raises even more barriers to voting and specifically targets vulnerable communities, especially voters with disabilities, voters of color, and elderly voters,” said Grace Chimene, president of the League of Women Voters of Texas. “SB 1 is a violation of our freedom to vote, and we will continue to fight every attempt to silence Texas voters.”

The League is joined in the suit by the Texas Organizing Project, Workers Defense Action Fund, Register, Educate, Vote, & Use your Power – Texas (REV UP Texas), and OCA of Greater Houston.

“All across the country, the right to vote is under attack by politicians attempting to silence the voices of the people,” said Dr. Deborah Ann Turner, board president of the League of Women Voters of the US. “The 2020 Election saw the greatest voter turnout in decades because states stepped up, expanding voting options, extending polling hours, establishing drop boxes, and investing in vote-by-mail. Now, politicians in states like Texas are trying to take away those voting freedoms and then some. The American people want and deserve to have their voices heard — all of their voices.”

In their lawsuit, plaintiffs argue that numerous provisions of the bill violate the Voting Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the U.S. Constitution. The law makes it virtually impossible for certain voters to cast their ballots, especially those who are more comfortable with languages other than English, those with disabilities, and those who have no option but to vote by mail due to health or other circumstances.  

"SB 1 deliberately targets people of color, the elderly, and those with disabilities, placing illegal restrictions on their access to the ballot box. There's no denying that this bill is an attack on democracy in our state and a transparent act of political desperation," said Brianna Brown, Co-Executive Director, Texas Organizing Project.

SB 1 has been opposed by diverse groups of Texans — including business executives, faith leaders, community organizers, local elected officials and countless everyday Texans.

“The DISABILITY VOTE has been growing in Texas. SB 1 will inhibit people with disabilities from participating in future elections,” said Bob Kafka, Texas Organizer with REV UP Texas.

Recent non-partisan polling shows most voters, regardless of political party, believe that all Texans should have equal access to the ballot box. SB 1 would not only make voting harder for all Texans, it threatens to harm communities of color and Texans with disabilities the most.  

“Texas has a history of violating Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act — we will continue to fight when Texas tries to limit the federal rights of limited English speaking voters to get the language assistance they need. The SB1 restrictions needlessly erect barriers for Immigrant, limited English proficient, seniors, and working class Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) citizens to exercise their right to vote, and go against the principle of equitable access,” said Deborah Chen, Civic Engagement Programs Director with OCA-Greater Houston.

The League and its partners are represented by co-counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Texas, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Disability Rights Texas, the Texas Civil Rights Project and the law firm of Jenner & Block LLP.

“SB 1 officially cements Texas as the hardest state to vote in the country,” said Ryan V. Cox, Senior Attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project. “For decades, voters of color have been silenced through voter suppression, gerrymandering, and deceptive tactics. We cannot allow our democracy to be undermined by these blatantly illegal voting restrictions aimed at disenfranchising communities of color and voters with disabilities.”  
 

“People with disabilities, who make up 20% of the U.S. population, already face significant barriers to exercising their legal right to vote, such as physically inaccessible polling sites, election workers refusing to provide accommodations, mail-in ballots that cannot be used by people who are blind, and more,” said Lia Sifuentes Davis, Senior Litigation Attorney with Disability Rights Texas. “SB1 is a discriminatory law that creates more unnecessary barriers and silences the voices of Texans with disabilities as well as Texans of color.”

“Disabled voters and voters with limited English proficiency have the same right to vote as anyone else,” said Tommy Buser-Clancy, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of Texas. “SB 1 cruelly targets these voters and anyone who might assist them with increased burdens and unnecessary criminal penalties. These provisions are unlawful and part of a long history of Texas implementing discriminatory anti-voter measures. The law should be struck down.”

Read the full bill and Texas Civil Rights Project’s analysis on SB 1 here.

Read this press release online here.