The UN special rapporteur said voting restrictions in Texas diluted the rights of ethnic minorities and resulted in “gerrymandering”.
A United Nations human rights expert has denounced measures in parts of the United States, including Texas, which he says could undermine democracy by denying millions of people belonging to visible minority groups equal voting rights.
Speaking on the last day of a two-week official visit to the United States, Fernand de Varennes said on Monday that Texas law had resulted in “gerrymandering” and a dilution of voting rights for ethnic minorities in favor of whites.
“It is unfortunately becoming evident that it is almost a tyranny of the majority where the right to vote of minorities is denied in many regions, in parts of the country,” said de Varennes, the UN special rapporteur on minority issues at a press conference. conference.
De Varennes called for a “New Deal” to revise the legislation. There was no immediate reaction from the United States to its preliminary observations, which the UN expert said he shared with US State Department officials earlier today.
His comments came after the United States was first included on a list of “demoted” democracies, in part because of a slew of state laws passed in recent months that make it harder for some voters. to vote.
“Research indicates that some states’ recently approved or under discussion voter registration and voting laws end up affecting minorities disproportionately in a negative way,” the International Institute’s report revealed. for democracy and electoral assistance (PDF).
The US Department of Justice for follow-up Texas earlier this month “on certain restrictive voting procedures” contained in a controversial state law known as SB1, which the department said violates federal voting and civil rights laws.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott enacted SB1 in September, saying the Republican-backed measure would help fight voter fraud. But civil rights groups and other observers said the legislation was aimed at making it harder for Democratic-leaning minorities to vote.
Among other measures, SB1 banned drive-thru and 24-hour voting locations, added new identification requirements for restricted postal voting that could help voters who need help due to barriers language or disability, and empowers partisan observers.
Texas was one of more than a dozen US states to pass voting changes since the 2020 presidential election, spurred in part by false claims by former President Donald Trump that the vote was marred by widespread fraud.
The Brennan Center for Justice, a New York University research center that documents voting rights legislation in the United States, reported that at least 19 states have enacted 33 laws that make it harder for people to vote. Americans between January 1 and September 27 of this year.
Texas SB1 legislation “disproportionately burdens Latino, black and Asian voters and makes it more difficult for those who face language barriers or have a disability to get help voting,” noted the center, which has disputed the law in a US court.
“In a state where it was already difficult to vote, [SB1] exacerbates the barriers faced by voters in Texas, ”he said.
This month, lawsuits were also filed in Texas over congressional redistribution cards that critics said “diluted the voting power of communities of color” while giving white voters greater political influence than they did. of the state’s population.
The state has been allocated two additional seats in the United States House of Representatives this year due to population growth.
“Texas added two million Latinos to its population in the 2020 census, yet Republicans across the state have always found a way to gerrymander and avoid adding districts that represent this growth,” Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO of Voto Latino, a group that challenges the Plans, noted in a statement at the end of last month.
“The Texas GOP efforts silence Latin American voices by diminishing the power of their votes, grouping them and dividing them into convoluted district lines that reduce their representation and make it more difficult to elect representatives of their choice.” , Kumar said.