Eric Holder on his opposition to voting restrictions: ‘We should be energized, galvanized, motivated’
From Texas Standard:
Once a decade, the U.S. Census provides the population counts that each state uses to redraw electoral boundaries. How these boundaries are drawn is usually determined by the political party that holds power in the state legislature. The Texas redistribution process, which will begin soon, has caught the attention of former Attorney General Eric Holder, who held the post during the Obama administration. He is also concerned about legislation that adds new regulations to the voting process in the state.
Holder is chairman of the National Democratic Redistribution Committee. He told Texas Standard his desire to work on redistribution issues grew out of how the process unfolded in 2011 when he said Republicans had used electoral cards to benefit their candidates. He cites a Princeton University study which found that gerrymandering in 2011 was “the worst in half a century.” Holder says his goal is to encourage a fair process that doesn’t give either party undue influence.
Texas won two congressional seats in the 2020 census. Holder says the demographics of the growing population that brought those seats to Texas should be reflected in the way the maps are drawn.
“These two new seats should at least, at a minimum, be competitive for Democrats,” Holder said. “But I think we’ve seen Republicans not really caring about fairness; they are concerned about gaining and retaining power.”
Holder calls the Republican election law changes passed during the current legislative session “anti-voter provisions.” He says they’re a preview of what to expect during the redistribution process, which is likely to begin in the fall.
He says the provisions included in Senate Bills 6 and 7, which their authors say strengthen electoral security, were created in response to false allegations of fraud by former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Other Republican-led states, including Georgia, have enacted tough new voting restrictions.
“Republicans are pushing these bills under the false pretense that elections are not safe or not safe,” Holder said. “This is absurd, period.”
Mr. Holder says Texas electoral districts are already some of the most popular in the country and the state has continued to pass laws that create barriers to voting.
“The combination of this voter suppression and gerrymandering is something incredibly undemocratic and incompatible with who we claim to be as a nation,” Holder said.
Holder says voters often ignore the direct link between gerrymandering – attracting districts to favor the ruling party, even as districts divide communities and ignore geographic boundaries – and issues many care about. He cites reproductive rights, the expansion of Medicaid, and criminal justice reform as examples, all of the problems Democrats have led over the years.
Districts designed to protect those with legislative power may prevent the adoption of policies that the majority of voters prefer, Holder says, because elected officials do not need to deal with voters who are not. agree with them. In Texas, it looks like Republicans are drawing boundaries that isolate them from dealing with an increasingly diverse electorate that leans Democratic.
“[Republicans] have a more tenuous hold over the majority in the state. But instead of changing their policies to appeal to what is clearly a changing electorate in Texas, they are doubling down. “
He says voters who want more choice should get involved.
“We need to be energized, galvanized, motivated to fight against these efforts,” Holder said.