Texas Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas challenged Rep. Briscoe Cain of Deer Park after Cain sponsored a Texas voter suppression bill called “purity of the ballot box.” The term dates back to the Jim Crow era.
Senate Bill 7 would create new voting restrictions in the state of Texas after claims of voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election. The bill was written to uphold “election integrity and security, preventing fraud in the conduct of elections, increasing criminal penalties and creating criminal offenses.”
On Friday, in a 78-64 vote, the Texas House passed the GOP-led legislation. The restrictions include prohibiting the sending of unsolicited applications to vote by mail and the bill will soon head to the Senate, according to the Texas Tribune.
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On Thursday, Anchia shared his stance, tweeting, “‘Purity of the ballot’ was a term drafted specifically to disenfranchise Black voters following the Civil War. This justification was used again during the Jim Crow Era. And today this lie was resurrected in the #txlege to justify #SB7.”
In Article 6, Section 4 of the Texas Constitution, the phrase is also used in reference to “white primaries” in an effort to keep Black people from voting, according to the Texas State Historical Association. Cain admitted that he knew nothing of the history when Anchia brought it into question.
In a clip shared on Twitter, Anchia asked Cain frankly, “What was your motivation for using that term, ‘Purity at the ballot box?’ Because that is a specific set of words that has a lot of meaning in state history.”
Cain responded, “What authorizes us? The sovereign people of the state of Texas who delegated their authority to the Constitution. We then should look to the Constitution and say, ‘What gives us authority to do anything on this issue?’ And that’s the provision that does that and so that would be why.”
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Anchia, continued to challenge Cain on whether he looked into the history before using those words. Cain acknowledged that he did not. Anchia addressed how that language is directly tied to the history of marginalizing Black people following the Civil War with the denial of jobs, voting, education, and other rights.
“No. No. The only thing if we were to have a discussion maybe over some coffee or drinks one day I could go into the details of Article 1 really well. I’ve read the debates and the journals of the Convention of 1875 on that for that thing but I’m not familiar,” Cain responded.
On Saturday, Rachel Maddow addressed the issue during her broadcast. Watch the full clip below.
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