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Texas Democrats and advocacy groups discuss voting rights ahead of special session

Gov. Greg Abbott put election integrity on the agenda for the special session starting Thursday, July 8.

AUSTIN, Texas — Advocacy groups called the Texas Special Legislative Session the “suppression session” ahead of its start at a press conference Thursday, July 8.

Black Voters Matter hosted the event at the Texas Capitol to discuss election integrity with Texas Democrats, Texas Right to Vote Coalition, Texas for All Coalition and other advocacy groups.

State Rep. Chris Turner, who represents Arlington, said Texas House Democrats are “committed to doing everything within our power to stop Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republicans from passing anti-voter legislation that makes a more difficult to vote in the state of Texas.”

Event organizers claimed Texas Republicans spent the 2021 regular legislative session “doing everything in their power to make it harder for Texans, particularly Black and brown Texans, to vote,” in a press release.

Abbott released the 11 topics the legislature would be able to pass bills on during the special session Wednesday, July 7. Election integrity is the second item on the agenda.

In May, Abbott said he would call a special session at some point during 2021 to discuss election and bail reform bills after Texas house democrats walked out of the chamber to block the passing of controversial voting bill, Senate Bill 7.

Fort Worth Rep. Nicole Collier called House Bill 3, an “election integrity” bill introduced to the house for the special session, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. HB3 is related “to election integrity in and security, including by preventing fraud in the conduct of election in this state; increasing penalties; creating criminal offense.”

Turner said it is already “too hard to vote” in Texas. He said when discussing election integrity during the special session, legislators should work to make it easier for people to vote in Texas by creating online voter registration and making it easier to vote by mail.

RELATED: Texas House Democrats and legislative staffers take Gov. Greg Abbott to court for defunding Legislature

“We have a governor that does not know what humanity looks like, does not have a fiber in his bone,” President of Next Generation Action Network Dominique Alexander said at the press conference. “And yet, at the end of the day, if you’re trying to look for understanding in his agenda you are looking at the wrong place because nothing makes sense.”

State Rep. Gina Hinojosa, who represents Austin, referenced Texas House Democrats' visit with Vice President Kamala Harris as inspiration for the group to keep fighting.

“I know you’re tired, but this is our moment in history,” Hinojosa said. “This is the voting rights fight of our lifetimes, and we need to put people over politics.”

Texas House Democrats said Abbott should also be focused on fixing the state’s power grid, a topic not on the agenda.

On Friday, Democrats in the Senate held a similar presser. Watch it here:

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