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GOP Legislators In Texas Drop Requiring Citizenship Tests For Minority Voters After Most Legislators Fail Test

The Republican-led Texas House of Representatives dropped their attempt to require citizenship tests for minority voters after it was revealed that most of the legislators could not pass the test.
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The Republican-led Texas House of Representatives dropped their attempt to require citizenship tests for minority voters after it was revealed that most of the legislators could not pass the test.

Only 17 of the 98 Republican representatives passed the multiple-choice test, which is given to prospective U.S. citizens.

The bill requiring citizenship tests for minorities was considered the most restrictive voting measure in more than a half-century. Nevertheless, it was expected to pass overwhelmingly in both the state house and senate and then to be signed into by GOP Gov. Greg Abbott in time for the November elections.

Jeb "Cooter" Flegm, R-Flat Earth, who sponsored the bill, admitted he was embarrassed that GOP legislators knew so little about the history and laws of the United States, but he emphasized that this would not dissuade him from proposing undemocratic laws in the future.

"We've been embarrassed before and we'll be embarrassed again," Phlegm said. "We would not be representing the people of Texas if we were not afraid to make idiots out of ourselves to prove our superiority."

The Flegm bill came in response to a federal appeals court decision that ruled that Texas's voter ID law was discriminatory. Critics of the law said that requiring photo identification at the polls could deny 600,000 people the right to vote in November.

The court's decision came as other courts also ruled that restrictive voting laws in Wisconsin and North Carolina were unconstitutional because they were created to keep minority voters from voting.

Texas is one of 15 states that have restricted voting registration during the 2016 election year, the Brennan Center for Justice reported. Critics of the laws say they're intended to keep minorities and other traditional Democrats from voting.

Representative Flegm denied that his bill was racially motivated.

"We're not trying to keep blacks and other minorities from voting because they're black or because they're minorities," he said. "We're trying to keep them from voting because they vote for Democrats. We wouldn't restrict voting if they voted for Republicans. Do you think we're stupid?"

When asked if she thought her Republican colleagues were stupid, Faith Charity, D-Sunshine, minority leader of the state's House of Representatives, broke into laughter. She then referred to the GOP legislators' failing scores on the citizenships tests.

"I'll let their test scores answer that question," she said, trying to suppress additional laughter.

When Flegm proposed the bill, Charity expressed her outrage, comparing it to literacy tests and other measures used in Southern states before Congress passed the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

"It's a deliberate and obvious attempt to stop blacks and immigrants, particularly Mexicans, from voting," Charity said.

Charity and other Democrats told their Republican colleagues that if they should be willing to pass a citizenship test that they required of others.

House Republicans accepted the challenge.

"How hard could it be if so many Mexicans and immigrants pass it?" Flegm said.

About 91 percent pass the citizenship test, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

That figure is more than 70 percent higher than the percentage of GOP legislators in Texas who took the test.

For instance, one question asked, "During the Cold War, what was the main concern for the United States?"

74 of the 98 GOP legislators answered: ''The high cost of heating bills."

When asked about the results, Flegm shrugged and said, "I guess we should've studied."

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