Voting rights leader Stacey Abrams met virtually with Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives on Thursday to cheer them on in combating Republican-led voter suppression efforts in Texas and nationwide.
“I am proud of the Texas Democratic legislators who are fighting tooth and nail to protect democracy in Texas and across our country,” said Abrams, the former Georgia House Democratic Leader and the founder of voting rights group Fair Fight.
“To the Texas legislators who are fighting bad Republican bills in their state: Georgians stand with you, because what you’re doing is bigger than just Texas,” Abrams said in a statement. “Keep on fighting, and keep standing strong.”
Earlier this month, more than 50 Democratic lawmakers left Texas to block a vote on GOP 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 lawmakers have been in D.C. since, pushing for Congress to pass federal legislation to protect voting rights. On Thursday, they met with Abrams, as well as Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Texas Democratic state Rep. Gina Hinojosa said that the delegation was “thrilled” and “honored” to speak with Abrams and the Clintons. Hinojosa called Abrams a “voting rights icon,” saying, “Simply put, without Stacey Abrams, there is no House Democratic walkout.”
Abrams’ organization Fair Fight Action has been working to expand access to the vote and combat voter suppression efforts in Georgia and beyond.
Voter suppression efforts disproportionately disenfranchise Black, Latinx and low-income voters.
“We will keep on moving forward to ensure that every Texan has an opportunity to vote,” Hinojosa said in a statement.
Republicans in legislatures across the country are pushing hundreds of bills that would restrict voting. Such efforts have already become law in several states, including Georgia, Arkansas and Arizona.
The Texas Democrats, other Democratic lawmakers and voting rights groups have been urging Congress to pass the For The People Act, which would override much of Republicans’ state-level efforts by mandating that states implement such measures as early voting, no-excuse absentee ballots, and automatic and same-day voter registration.
But the sweeping bill will be tough to pass in Congress, because Democrats have only a slim majority in the Senate, Republicans oppose it and key Senate Democrats refuse to back filibuster reform.
After their virtual meeting, Hillary Clinton said of the Texas lawmakers: “We stand with them and applaud their ongoing efforts to ensure our citizens have access to the ballot box.”
Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, echoed her praise. “There are times when it’s necessary to take extraordinary measures to defend our democracy,” he said. “This is one of those times.”