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Texas state Sen. Carol Alvarado

Texas state Sen. Carol Alvarado, joined by other members of the Texas Legislature, talks with reporters after attending the Senate Democrats policy luncheon in the Capitol in Washington on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

'Courage and Leadership': Texas Dem Praised for 15-Hour Filibuster to Defend Democracy

"I know voter suppression anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere. Proud to shine a light on stories of everyday Texans and stand up for the promise of democracy."

Andrea Germanos

A Democratic Texas state senator on Thursday morning ended a 15-hour filibuster to oppose and delay what she called a "voter suppression" bill put forth by Republicans in the state.

State Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) began the filibuster just before 6:00 pm local time Wednesday and stopped talking just before 9:00 am Thursday. The measure then promptly passed the measure in an 18-11 vote.

"Fifteen hours ago I stood to filibuster SB 1 and give a voice to the constituents who this bill attempts to silence," Alvarado tweeted minutes after ending her filibuster. 

"I know voter suppression anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere. Proud to shine a light on stories of everyday Texans and stand up for the promise of democracy," she added.

The legislation at issue, Senate Bill 1, was authored by state Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) and would, according to critics, curtail access to the polls.

The bill, according to the ACLU of Texas, would "unjustly target disabled Texans, communities of color, and older Texans." The measure was among the reasons why Democratic members of the Texas House of Representatives fled the state earlier this summer as a way to prevent its passage by denying the GOP majority the quorum necessary to proceed. In turn, Republicans have issued arrest warrants in order to force the Democrats back to Austin.

The Texas Tribune reported earlier this week that SB 1 "is nearly identical to legislation considered in the first special session and still contains many of the provisions that have spawned a monthslong game of legislative brinkmanship." The outlet further explained:

Democratic lawmakers, civil rights groups and advocates for people with disabilities say the bill will in effect suppress voting by people of color and limit access for those with disabilities. Those provisions have prompted Democrats to repeatedly leave the House without enough members present to do business in an effort to block the GOP's proposals.

The legislation would ratchet up the state's election rules by outlawing local voting initiatives meant to widen access as well as further tightening the voting-by-mail process. It would also bolster partisan poll watchers' freedoms inside polling locations and establish new rules—and possible criminal penalties—for those who help voters, including those with disabilities, cast their ballots.

Alvarado's stand—the state Legislature's filibuster rules bar sitting, leaning, breaks, drinking, and eating—against SB 1 was welcomed by a number of advocacy groups such as the Texas AFL-CIO, who praised her for acting "to preserve democracy."

In a Wednesday night statement, Common Cause associate director Stephanie Gómez said "Alvarado is showing exactly the kind of courage and leadership Texas needs right now. While we face a dangerous surge in Covid-19 cases and our local hospitals reach maximum capacity, Gov. [Greg] Abbott and his partisan legislators continue to focus on stripping away our freedom to vote."

Gómez also put Alvarado's filibuster in the context of the latest efforts by Republicans at the federal to block the popular For the People Act, pro-democracy legislation that would, among other provisions, strengthen voting rights.

"While Sen. Alvarado is not afraid to take a stand for voting rights, Republicans in the U.S. Senate, including [Republican] Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, refuse to even allow debate on the For the People Act," she said, calling it "a transformative piece of legislation that will protect the very voting rights Gov. Abbott works to take away from us."

"Congress must put an end to the wave of anti-voter attacks," Gómez added, "and pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act without further delay."


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