The Rev. William J. Barber II and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke launched a four-day, 27-mile march in Texas against voter suppression, calling on Congress to end the filibuster and pass voting rights legislation.
“We are here to start this march for our democracy,” Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, said at a press conference Tuesday, the evening before people were set to start the multiday march from Georgetown to Austin.
Barber condemned Texas Republicans’ efforts to pass legislation restricting voting rights, calling such bills “the canary in the mine” and noting how Republicans in state legislatures across the country are pushing hundreds of bills to suppress the vote.
“Texas is the hardest state in the nation in which to vote. Republicans have introduced legislation that would make it even harder,” O’Rourke said Tuesday.
Barber urged the Senate to end the filibuster and pass the For The People Act. The latter bill would override much of Republicans’ state-level efforts by mandating states implement measures like early voting, no-excuse absentee ballots, and automatic and same-day voter registration.
During what they describe as a “Selma to Montgomery style March for Democracy,” activists will pause at three churches and a Muslim community center and end with a rally at the Texas State Capitol on Saturday.
In order to march, Barber said people will need to show proof that they are vaccinated against COVID-19 and wear masks.
Earlier this month, more than 50 Democratic lawmakers left Texas to block a vote on GOP-led legislation that would create harsher voter ID requirements, ban 24-hour and drive-through voting and stop election officials from sending voters unsolicited absentee ballots.
The Texas Democrats have been in D.C. urging Congress to pass the For The People Act. But the sweeping bill will be tough to pass with Democrats holding only a slim majority in the Senate, Republicans opposing it and key Senate Democrats refusing to back filibuster reform.
Voter suppression efforts disproportionately disenfranchise Black, Latinx and low-income voters.