Texas A&M San Antonio political science expert sees federal voting rights passage as victory for now

Texas Dems in D.C. pushed for restoring federal protections

SAN ANTONIO – House Democrats who broke quorum to stop what they said were efforts to suppress the vote in Texas also went to Washington, D.C., to support federal legislation protecting voting rights. Within days of returning to Austin and the expected passage of the bill they opposed in Texas, the U.S. House adopted the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Andrew Sanders, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science at Texas A&M San Antonio, said the vote Tuesday was a victory for those Democrats “for the time being.”

“Certainly, it shows that they’ve definitely had an impact on the national party, and that’s definitely significant,” Sanders said. “It shows that they have some influence on the national stage.”

However, he said the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act must still overcome the filibuster in the U.S. Senate and gain the support of 10 Republicans.

If it does not, as many expect, Sanders said, “In the end, the states would be allowed to conduct their own elections in the ways that they saw fit.”

It’s the reason why the Texas House Democrats and voting rights advocates saw the federal legislation as the only way to stop a wave of similar laws.

The John Lewis Act would have restored federal pre-clearance of any changes to election laws in states with a history of discrimination, including Texas.

Sanders said Chief Justice John Roberts co-wrote the first of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, gutting the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which John Lewis fought for during the Civil Rights Era.

As a result, Sanders said, “The power that the Justice Department has right now over really any states is quite limited.”

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Bill Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.