UN expert decries near 'tyranny' in US against minority voting rights

Fernand de Varennes decries Texas law that he says has resulted in 'gerrymandering' and dilution of voting rights of minorities in favour of white Americans

A UN human rights expert said on Monday that electoral laws in some parts of the country including Texas may undermine democracy by depriving millions of members of minority groups of the right to vote.

Fernand de Varennes, the UN special rapporteur on minority issues, speaking on the final day of a two-week visit to the US, decried a Texas law that he said resulted in “gerrymandering” and dilution of voting rights of minorities in favour of white Americans.

“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, in parts of the country,” he told a news briefing.

He called for a “New Deal” to overhaul legislation.

There was no immediate US reaction to his preliminary observations, which Mr de Varennes said he had shared with 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 claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

At least 19 states have passed laws making it harder to vote, the non-partisan Brennan Centre for Justice reported.

The US Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Texas this month over its law that curbs voting by mail, in the latest effort by the den administration of President Joe Biden to combat new voting restrictions.

Mr De Varennes is a law professor who has served in the independent post since 2017.

Updated: November 23rd 2021, 4:11 AM