Georgia Democrats join Texans in Washington to push federal voting overhaul

The Texas Democrats camped out in Washington to block the passage of a restrictive voting measure are getting a boost from Georgia legislators who flew into the nation’s capital to lend some moral support.

About a dozen Georgia lawmakers are among more than 100 state legislators from roughly 20 states gathering in Washington as part of a “week of action” to encourage Congress to adopt a federal voting measure that would pre-empt local election restrictions.

“We want to tell the Texas Democrats we support them and impress upon our members of Congress that it’s imperative we protect voting rights,” said state Rep. Carolyn Hugley, a Columbus Democrat who flew into D.C. on Monday. “We’re depending on Congress to stand in the gap for us.”

The visit comes at a crucial moment. The partisan standoff in Texas is locked in a stalemate in the last week of that state’s legislative session as dozens of Democrats remain ensconced in Washington, depriving Republican leaders of the quorum they need to pass an elections measure.

And U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock is at the center of an effort to hash out the final touches on a revised voting rights measure, weeks after Senate Republicans blocked a more expansive version of the bill. Democrats say the measures are necessary to override state-level GOP measures that impose new voting obstacles.

“Time is running out and the Senate must do what it takes to pass the law,” said state Rep. Billy Mitchell, D-Atlanta, borrowing a quote from Warnock: “The four most important words in our democracy are: the people have spoken. And we must do all we can to ensure the people speak.”

The legislators plan a rally near the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, part of a spate of events and closed-door meetings aimed at upping the pressure on federal lawmakers to take action. Senior Republicans oppose the overhaul, framing them as a “federal takeover” of local elections.

“We delivered Biden and Congress in Georgia – and we need them to do the job we elected them to do,” said state Rep. Bee Nguyen, an Atlanta Democrat running for secretary of state, referring to her party’s wins in November and January.

“That means ending the filibuster and passing federal voting rights legislation. We can’t out-organize democracy subversion.”