Beto O'Rourke asks San Antonians to rally for voting rights Sunday, saying U.S. faces 'existential threat'

click to enlarge Beto O'Rourke speaks during a campaign appearance when he was running for the U.S. Senate. - Luke Harold / Wikimedia Commons
Luke Harold / Wikimedia Commons
Beto O'Rourke speaks during a campaign appearance when he was running for the U.S. Senate.
Former Congressman Beto O'Rourke is offering to bus people from San Antonio and other cities to a Sunday voting-rights rally at the Texas Capitol, saying public pressure is needed to safeguard U.S. democracy.

O'Rourke, one of the state's highest-profile progressives, said his rally will urge the U.S. Senate to adopt the For the People Act, which would create new voter protections. It's also meant to show Texas lawmakers that their constituents oppose efforts to resurrect a failed bill from the past legislative session intended to create new poll restrictions.

A spate of new, Republican-backed voter suppression laws in state legislatures pose an "existential threat" to U.S. democracy, O'Rourke told the Current.

"It's about the January 6 insurrection, the big lie trafficked by Trump and those who are complicit and are still power in Texas and D.C.," said O'Rourke, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate who now runs voter-registration group Powered by People. "It's about these sweeping changes to our elections laws that have been proposed across the country, nowhere more dangerously so than in Texas. This is the fight of our lives, and we've got to be in it if we're going to win it."

O'Rourke's For the People Rally will take place at 5:30 p.m. Sunday on the steps of the Texas Capitol, 1100 Congress Avenue. The former congressman said he expects thousands to show up.

The For the People Act has already passed the U.S. House but it faces an uncertain path in the Senate, where Democrats hold a razor-thin majority. The bill would create automatic voter registration nationwide, restore voting rights for the formerly incarcerated and limit gerrymandering and money in politics.

O'Rourke said rallies and other demonstrations are vital to letting lawmakers know that their constituents demand voting protections. Some Republicans recently walked back their support for parts of Texas' failed voter-restriction bill, showing that public pressure works, he added.

"This is the only way we'll have a shot," O'Rourke said. "I know that from my reading of history. You know, the '65 Voting Rights Act in LBJ's time really took public pressure like this — people physically being present."

People interested in attending the rally can RSVP via the Powered By People website.

Those who want to get a bus ride from San Antonio can also sign up for one online.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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