GENEVA, Nov 22 (Reuters) – A United Nations human rights expert said on Monday that electoral laws in some parts of the United States including Texas may undermine democracy by depriving millions of citizens who belong to minority groups of the equal right to vote.
Fernand de Varennes, the U.N. special rapporteur on minority issues, speaking on the final day of a two-week visit to the United States, decried a Texas law that he said resulted in “gerrymandering” and dilution of voting rights of minorities in favor of white Americans.
“There is in fact what could be described as an undermining of democracy with a phenomenal number of legislative measures in different parts of the country…which certainly have the effect of making the exercise of the right to vote more difficult for certain minorities,” he told a news briefing.
“It is becoming unfortunately apparent that it is almost a tyranny of the majority where the minority right to vote is being denied in many areas,” he added.
De Varennes called for a “New Deal” to overhaul legislation. There was no immediate U.S. reaction to his preliminary observations which de Varennes said he had shared with U.S. State Department officials earlier in the day.
Democrats have made election reform a priority in light of Republican state-balloting 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 making it harder to vote, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice. Republicans in Congress have blocked proposed legislation multiple times this year. The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Texas this month over its law that curbs voting by mail, in the latest effort by the Biden administration to combat new voting restrictions.
De Varennes is a law professor who has served in the independent post since 2017. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Catherine Evans and Cynthia Osterman)