New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries on Sunday criticized the restrictive voting bill moving through the Texas Legislature as “shameful,” saying the legislation and efforts from Republicans in other states to impose strict election measures amount to a “voter suppression epidemic.”
“Well the Texas law is shameful and Republicans clearly in Texas and throughout the country want to make it harder to vote and easier to steal an election. That is the only way that I could interpret the voter suppression epidemic that we see working its way from one state, Georgia, to Arizona to Texas and all across the country in so many different ways,” Jeffries told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
“Fundamental to our democracy is the right to vote. Self-government. That the American people get to decide and work for a democracy that reflects the voices of all Americans, not just a certain segment, not just conservatives, not just Republicans, not just people in certain parts of the country, all Americans,” he continued.
Texas state senators, after nearly seven hours of debate, voted to adopt Senate Bill 7, a measure that would make mail-in voting more difficult, ban after-hours voting and prohibit ballot and drive-through options. The Texas state House has not yet voted on the legislation, though it is eligible for a vote late Sunday afternoon, and it must do so before a midnight deadline. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has indicated he will sign the legislation into law.
The legislation follows Georgia, Florida and other states that have enacted laws that make it harder to vote for some of their states’ residents and as Republicans continue to push former President Donald Trump’s lies about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election despite no evidence.
Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican, told Tapper in a separate interview Sunday that he has not reviewed the text of the state bill but said he believes the legislation is to “restore confidence in elections that fraud isn’t taking place.”
“There are a couple fundamentals, here, though, that I think most Americans do agree with. That is, asking for an I.D., you know when someone votes. I don’t believe that’s voter suppression,” McCaul said. “The idea of verifying signatures I think is very important as well. I think what the Republicans here will tell you is that they’re trying to make sure that the person voting is the person on paper so it’s a legitimate vote devoid of fraud.”
State lawmakers have enacted nearly two dozen laws since the 2020 election that restrict ballot access, according to a new tally by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. The 22 laws in 14 states mark a new record for restrictive voting laws since 2011, when the Brennan Center recorded 19 laws enacted in 14 state legislatures.
The race to change the ground rules for future elections follows Trump’s repeated and unfounded claims that voter fraud contributed to his loss last November. Around the country, Republicans have cast their effort as needed to restore voter confidence in the integrity of elections. But critics say the nationwide push aims to retain GOP power in key battlegrounds by making it harder for people of color and younger voters to cast their ballots.
There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
CNN’s Eric Bradner, Dianne Gallagher, Janie Boschma and Fredreka Schouten contributed to this report.