By Shawna Mizelle, CNN
House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn on Tuesday said voting in this year’s midterm elections will be “chaotic” in the wake of a raft of new election laws passed by GOP-controlled legislatures.
“It is going to be chaotic, no question about that. I’ve been on the phone earlier today as well as some virtual meetings with the clergy all over the country,” the South Carolina Democrat said on CNN’s “Don Lemon Tonight” when asked about the potential impact of the new laws. “We are organizing now to fight this kind of suppression. We know what they are doing in Texas is designed to be able to deny voters the right to vote. We know that.”
Clyburn’s comments underscore frustrations and confusion expressed in Texas over the state’s new restrictive election law as early voting in Texas’ March 1 primary is underway. Texas is one of 19 states that passed a total of 33 laws in 2021 that make it harder to vote, according to a tally by the liberal-leaning Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law.
Largely Republican-controlled legislatures last year raced to establish new voting rules amid false claims by former President Donald Trump that widespread voter fraud contributed to his election loss in 2020. New restrictions contemplated in other states this year could bring another wave of changes ahead of the midterm elections.
Texas’ early voting — which kicked off Monday for US congressional seats, governor and six other statewide offices — positioned the state as one of the first to test the new laws, and as CNN reported, it has already left election officials and voters grappling with its requirements.
The Texas law imposes a raft of changes in a state that already had some of the strictest voting regulations in the country.
Among its provisions, the law establishes ID requirements to vote absentee and makes it a crime for a public official to mail absentee ballot applications to voters who haven’t requested them. As a result, there have been higher-than-usual rejection rates for absentee ballot applications. And some counties have begun to report new problems, like hundreds of mailed ballots flagged for rejection over ID requirements.
Clyburn told Lemon on Tuesday that “anybody that’s throwing up roadblocks to the right to vote are trying to destroy this democracy.”
“The Republican Party seems to be hellbent on establishing an autocracy in this country,” he said. “And I would hope that the people of goodwill would come together and do what is necessary to stop this in its track so that this country can continue its pursuit of a more perfect union.”
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CNN’s Fredreka Schouten and Kelly Mena contributed to this report.