UN Special Rapporteur says voting restrictions in Texas dilute the rights of ethnic minorities and lead to ‘gerrymandering’.
A United Nations human rights activist has condemned measures in some parts of the United States, including Texas, which he says could undermine democracy by denying millions of people belonging to visible minority groups the equal right to vote.
Speaking on the last day of a two-week official visit to the US, Fernand de Varennes said on Monday that Texas legislation had led to “gerrymandering” and the dilution of voting rights of ethnic minorities in favor of white people.
“It is unfortunate that it is almost a tyranny of the majority where the minority right to vote is denied in many areas, in parts of the country,” de Varennes, the UN special rapporteur on minority issues, said in a news release. said. conference.
De Varennes called for a “New Deal” to review legislation. There was no immediate US response to his preliminary observations, which the UN expert said he had shared with US State Department officials earlier in the day.
His comments came after the US was first included a list of “fallen” democracies, in part because of a string of state laws passed in recent months that make it harder for some voters to cast their ballots.
“Research indicates that some states’ voter registration and voting laws, whether recently approved or currently under discussion, ultimately adversely affect minorities in a negative way,” the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance Report found (PDF).
The U.S. Department of Justice sued Texas earlier this month “contained certain restrictive voting procedures” in a controversial state law known as SB1, which the department says violates federal voting and civil rights laws.
Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas undersigned SB1 introduced in September, arguing that the Republican-backed measure would help combat voter fraud. But civil rights groups and other observers said the legislation was aimed at making it harder for Democratic-minded minorities to vote.
Among other things, SB1 banned pass-through and 24-hour polling stations, added new identification requirements for postal voting, restricted who can help voters in need of assistance due to language barriers or disabilities, and empowered party pollsters.
Texas was one of more than a dozen U.S. states that have undergone vote changes since the 2020 presidential election, spurred in part by former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the vote was violated by widespread fraud.
The Brennan Center for Justice, a New York University research center that documents U.S. suffrage legislation, reports that at least 19 states have enacted 33 laws that make it harder for Americans to vote between January 1 and September 27 this year.
Texas’ SB1 legislation “burdens Latino, Black and Asian voters excessively and makes it more difficult for those who experience language barriers or who have disabilities to get help to cast their ballots.” said the center, which has challenged the law in U.S. court.
“In a state where it was already difficult to vote, [SB1] “exacerbates the barriers faced by Texas voters,” it said.
This month, too, lawsuits were filed in Texas on congressional redistribution cards, which critics say “dilute the voting power of colored communities” while giving white voters political influence that outweighs their share of the state’s population.
The state has been awarded two additional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives this year due to population growth.
“Texas added two million Latinos to its population in the 2020 census, and yet State Republicans still find a way to add and avoid districts that represent this growth,” said Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO of Voto Latino, a group that has the cards, said in a statement late last month.
“The Texas GOP’s efforts are silencing Latino votes by reducing, packaging and dividing the power of their vote into complex district lines that reduce their representation, making it more difficult to elect representatives of their choice,” Kumar said.