The rally concluded a four-day march that represented supporting their state legislators who left the state for Washington two weeks ago to block voting restrictions.
In Austin, Texan residents gathered across the sprawling Capitol lawns. Members of the clergy, politicians, constituents, and musicians all took the stage to voice their opposition about the proposals to impose voter ID requirements, limit ballot drop boxes and mail voting, and remove election authority from their local officials.
“If you don’t like who’s in there, vote them out,” Nelson sang, inviting the crowd to sing along with him to lyrics he’d previously written about taking a stand when it comes to voting.
The march kicked off on Wednesday and ended Saturday when participants peacefully approached the Texas Capitol building for a rally sponsored by activist group Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.
Willie Nelson Sings, People Rally for Voting Rights in Texas
The rally was organized in part, by Beto O’Rourke, the former Democratic congressman and presidential candidate. At this time, he has neither confirmed nor denied a run for governor in the lone star state in 2022.
“I ask you to think about every man and every woman who had the courage in their convictions and did what they needed to do in their own moment of truth in this country’s history,” O’Rourke told the audience.
As for their opposition, over a dozen people in favor of the voting legislation also gathered at the Capitol building. They waved signs in support of the proposed bill.
When Texas Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes, who penned the Senate’s version of the bill, heard about the rally, he decided to visit with people. He went to listen to their opinion and urge them to read the legislation, according to the AP.
“The right to vote is fundamental and so it has to be accessible and secure, both are important,” Hughes said. “This is America. This free speech— we love this. Whether folks agree with me or disagree with me, I am glad to be here.”
According to Hughes, “many people have heard generalizations,” and he wants to discuss the bill’s details with constituents.
Renee Conley said she attended the rally with her daughter, for whom she is protesting against the voting bill. According to Conley, when she goes to cast her vote, she brings her daughter so that she’ll be ready to cast her own ballot when the day arrives.
“I am here for her rights,” Conley said. “There is no reason she should ever have any threat of not being able to vote.”