Tuesday, 28 Mar 2023

US voting rights champion Jasmine Crockett: I need everyone to feel a sense of urgency

US voting rights champion Jasmine Crockett: I need everyone to feel a sense of urgency


US voting rights champion Jasmine Crockett: I need everyone to feel a sense of urgency

In July 2021, Jasmine Crockett entered the US Capitol for the first time. Then a state representative, Crockett was a lead architect of Texas Democrats' unprecedented plans to board a flight and travel to Washington to break quorum in Texas and block Republicans from enacting the voting restrictions they were steamrolling in the state.

Less than two years later, Crockett came back to the Capitol, this time to be sworn in to the House of Representatives - one of 22 women and 13 women of color in the class of 74 new freshmen.

Back in her district in Dallas for the first time since officially becoming a member of Congress, Crockett has had to hit the ground running. "I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off," she told the Guardian in a phone interviewy. "Everybody wants to get their meetings in, and I'm like, 'Guys, we have a full two years. And it's not like we're going to be that legislatively aggressive this season, so we've got time.'"

Crockett saw her opening to join Congress in November 2021, when the Dallas Democratic congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson announced her retirement after almost three decades. Four days later, Crockett announced she would run for her seat, with Johnson's support. She won the primary in May by over 20 points thanks to the name recognition and political prominence she earned by leading the plans to break quorum. Supporting a range of progressive policies from healthcare to workers' rights, she went on to easily secure the seat in the solidly Democratic district in November.

Coming into a chamber with a slim Republican majority, Crockett said she knows it will be important to keep the pressure on voting rights reform.

A civil rights attorney and former public defender, Crockett was labeled the most liberal member of the Texas house in her freshman year. In her first year, she introduced more than 60 bills, including measures to create online voter registration and same day voter registration, increase ballot drop boxes, permanently allow drive-thru voting, and allow voters to vote in primaries if they turn 18 in time for the general election.

None of her bills passed, but she made a name for herself as a defender of voting rights, which she has called the "modern-day civil rights movement".

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