Thursday, July 29, 2021

Austin City Council Joins the Fight Against Voter Suppression in Texas

Council passes a resolution to support Texas lawmakers battling

so-called election integrity laws House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1


AUSTIN, TX – On Thursday, City Council approved a resolution (Item 176) reaffirming support for state and federal legislation that protects voting rights and access to voting. This is in response to Governor Abbott's attempts to silence voices and participation in the democratic process with laws such as Texas House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1, as well as the wave of voter suppression happening across the nation. 


"Today, we stand on the shoulders of giants who have fought in hallowed halls of legislative chambers across our nation for free and fair access to the ballot box, for a voice in the electoral process we call our American democracy," said Austin City Council Member Vanessa Fuentes, who authored the resolution. "Every level of government has a duty, no matter the scope, to protect the voice of the community it serves. Texas is in the voting rights fight of our lifetime, and we must support the state leaders working to stop anti-voter laws." 


"I'm proud to stand alongside my colleagues and fight for what is right. Here in Texas, one of the most restrictive states for voting rights and access, we are fighting to stop Texas House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1," said City of Austin Mayor Steve Adler. "One of our most fundamental rights is on the line—the right to vote and make our voices heard—all voices matter. Join us by urging state and federal legislators to withdraw these bad bills that question the heart of our democratic process."


The resolution adds the Council's opposition against Texas voter suppression bills by:

  • Reaffirming the City's support for state and federal legislation that promotes and protects voting rights and access to voting; 
  • Urging members of the Texas Legislature to withdraw House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1; and,
  • Directing the City Manager to send copies of this resolution to the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House, the Austin state and federal delegations, City Councils in Texas and to the President of the United States


"Efforts to roll back nearly 250 years of progressively expanding voting rights are putting American democracy itself in the balance," said City of Austin Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison. "I wholeheartedly stand with the Texas lawmakers who are in Washington right now fighting to protect the voices of their constituents, and I sincerely hope Congress will act decisively to head off anti-voting bills that will disproportionately harm Black, Latino and other marginalized communities."


"Voter suppression is a cancer on our democracy. We cannot ignore the insidious, nationwide assault on our sacred right to vote," said Austin City Council Member Alison Alter. "In the first six months of 2021, 17 states enacted 28 laws that make it harder for our electorate to vote. To ensure a functional democracy, we must defend eligible voters' right to cast their ballots without intimidation."


"Top Texas officials are choosing to focus on voter suppression, while ignoring the multiple crises Texans are still facing," said Austin City Council Member Greg Casar. "They've failed to contain the pandemic, failed to protect us from the effects of Winter Storm Uri, and failed to pass any sort of meaningful legislation to help families make ends meet. The will of the people—our very democracy—must prevail, and Austin will continue supporting our leaders who are fighting for voting rights." 


In support of the Texas lawmakers who broke quorum twice to prevent further consideration of HB3 and adoption of SB1, the City of Austin District 2 office has engaged other cities across the state and has received promising news that Dallas, El Paso and other city councils are bringing forth similar resolutions. This is on the heels of Harris County's own resolution, which they passed on July 20. This statewide coordination will allow for greater impact as legislators and policymakers work to stem the tide of disenfranchisement.


Resolution sponsored by Council Member Vanessa Fuentes and co-sponsored by Mayor Steve Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Natasha Harper-Madison and Council Members Alison Alter and Greg Casar.