Why Texas's lone Black freshman Democrat refuses to give up on the fight for voting rights
July 22, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
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Representative Jasmine Crockett addresses the crowd at the For The People Rally in front of the Texas Capitol building in Austin, Texas, USA, on June 20, 2021. The rally is in support of the For the People Act, which is a bill in the United States Congress. The For The People Act is intended to change campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics, expand voting rights, create new ethics rules for federal officeholders and limit partisan gerrymandering. (Photo by Carlos Kosienski/Sipa USA)
Texas State Rep. Jasmine Crockett has emerged as one of the faces on the frontlines of a fight to protect voting rights alongside other women of color like state Reps. Gina Hinojosa, Jessica Gonzalez, Rhetta Andrews Bowers and Senfronia Thompson.
In her first year in the state House of Representatives, Crockett proposed more than 60 legislative bills -- many of which she drafted herself -- that tackled criminal justice reform, loosening drug laws and expanding voting access.
Crockett said ensuring voters have equal ballot access is critical to boosting voter turnout noting that when more people vote, Democrats often win because "we tend to fight for a broader cross section of people. "
As a civil rights attorney who once worked as a public defender, Crockett brought a familiarity with the state's criminal justice system and knew what she wanted to change as a Texas lawmaker.
Reynolds said it's rare for a freshman legislator to be vocal and introduce so many bills, but he advised Crockett to not let the backlash from colleagues stop her.
"I wanted to be that shero who could assist people at a very confusing and difficult time," Crockett said.
Crockett spent more than a decade working as an attorney, including a stint as a public defender in Bowie County, Texas and then opening up her own private practice focusing on civil rights law in Dallas in 2015.
For Crockett and other Democrats, traveling to DC was an urgency given Texas Republicans were close to passing a sweeping elections overhaul that would make casting mail-in ballots harder; ban drive-thru voting centers and 24-hour voting; empower poll watchers, making it easier for courts to overturn election results; effectively outlawed Black churches' "souls to the polls" get out the vote push and more.
Crockett said federal legislation is the only way to save millions of Texas voters from being disenfranchised.
Crockett said the battle for voting rights feels like a "modern day civil rights movement. "
Despite facing an uphill battle with getting legislation passed, Crockett has become a leading voice for Black and brown Texans and has garnered support from other Black leaders as well as voting rights activists who have joined her in DC.