Statewide Youth Organizing Group Gathers for First-Ever Advocacy Week

by TFN

Online Gathering Comes as the Legislature Considers Voting Restrictions in Response to a Surge of Participation by Young Voters and Voters of Color

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 8, 2021

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas Rising Action, the Texas Freedom Network’s political organizing arm for young Texans, this week for the first time in its history expanded its legislative Advocacy Day to an Advocacy Week, with a special focus on countering the ongoing attacks on the voting rights of Texans at the state Legislature.

The gathering, which takes place this week and was moved entirely online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is held every two years during the regular state legislative session and brings together more than 70 young Texans from across the state. They represent different regions that include large cities like Dallas, Houston, Austin, El Paso and San Antonio, and also smaller communities like Nacogdoches in East Texas.

“Texas Rising Action advocates, from all parts of the state, care deeply about issues like LGBTQ+ equality, access to reproductive health care, swift action on the climate crisis, and more,” said Texas Rising Action Senior Director Rae Martinez. “But they also recognize that lawmakers won’t listen to what they have to say if they aren’t able to vote. That’s why, this week and for all of the legislative session, Texas Rising Action is emphatic about protecting voting rights not just for young people and communities of color, but for all Texans.”

Texas Rising Action Advocacy Week began this past Saturday with a day-long advocacy training session and will continue this week with virtual visits with the state lawmakers.

As part of Advocacy Week, Texas Rising Action is calling on the Texas Legislature to drop all efforts to suppress the votes of eligible Texans through bills like Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 6.

Instead of voter suppression measures, the group is asking lawmakers to pass bills that would encourage participation, including proposals pending before the Legislature that would require polling locations at college and university campuses with an enrollment of at least 8,000 (HB 93) and add Texas to the 40 states with online voter registration (SB 246).

There have been at least a dozen voting suppression bills filed at the Texas Legislature. It is part of a nationwide trend that has seen hundreds of such measures filed in state legislatures in just the first few months of this year.

In Texas, efforts to limit voting follow an upward trend in voter participation. A recent Texas Freedom Network/Texas Rising Action analysis found that the number of voters ages 18-29 increased by about a half-million in 2020 over 2016. They accounted for 14.13 percent of the total vote, more than double their 2014 share and up from 12.83 percent in 2016.

The electorate is also becoming more diverse and is reflective of the diversity of the Texas Rising generation. The same analysis found that voters of color made up a little more than 32 percent of the overall electorate in 2020, up from just under 30 percent in 2016 and only 24 percent in 2014. The increase was driven especially by higher turnout from Latinx and Asian American voters.

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Texas Rising, a project of the Texas Freedom Network, builds the power of a rising generation of young Texans, with an emphasis on communities of color, by advocating for change in the cities and towns where they live and at the ballot box. To learn more, visit txrising.org.