Reuters and Afp
La Jornada newspaper
Tuesday, November 23, 2021, p. 3. 4
Geneva. A United Nations human rights expert said yesterday that electoral laws in some parts of the United States, such as Texas, can undermine democracy by depriving millions of minority citizens of equal voting rights.
Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on Minority Affairs, speaking on the last day of a two-week visit to the United States, denounced a Texas law resulting in redistricting and dilution of minority voting rights in favor of white Americans.
Unfortunately, it is becoming clear that it is a quasi-tyranny of the majority, in which the right to vote is denied to minorities in many areas of the country, he said at a press conference.
“One of the main conclusions is that there is a need to create another New Deal. The United States stands out among democracies for its incomplete legislation on the recognition of human rights and their protection, ”explained the official of the world organization in a press videoconference.
There was no immediate reaction from the United States to his preliminary remarks, which de Varennes said he shared with officials at the country’s State Department earlier in the day.
Democrats have made electoral reform a priority, in light of Republican state voting restrictions passed in response to former President Donald Trump’s false claims of massive voter fraud in the 2020 election.
At least 19 states have passed laws that make voting difficult, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice. Republicans in Congress have blocked proposed legislation multiple times this year.
The US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit this month against Texas over its law that curbs voting by mail, in the latest effort by the Joe Biden administration to combat new restrictions on the right to vote.
De Varennes considered that the country has an incomplete picture of laws first written more than 60 years ago, which show signs of exhaustion.
These deficiencies lead to millions of Americans, especially members of minorities, being victims of an increase in inequality, discrimination and even exclusion, and an increase in hate speech and hate crimes, he warned.
Although the expert praised the action of the federal government in the fight against hate speech towards Americans of Asian origin, he stressed that the black community continues to be among the most marginalized minorities in the country, and that they are, by far, those who have more likely not to vote in local and federal elections, to be imprisoned and the target of hate speech on social media.
Finally, he expressed his concern that the country continues to have different levels of citizenship, referring in particular to the inhabitants of Puerto Rico, a free associated United States territory, who do not have the right to vote in the presidential elections.
De Varennes is a law professor who has held the position of special rapporteur since 2017.