AUSTIN, Texas — Fallout from the Texas GOP-led voter suppression bills in the Texas legislature continues to grow after Senate Bill 7 passed the state Senate last Thursday along party lines.
Under SB 7, Texans would see more polling sites reduced in hours or closed, especially in urban and minority neighborhoods. Additionally, partisan poll watchers would be allowed to video record voters that need assistance in voting.
The bill would also force large, popular polling places to have the same number of voting machines as small, local polling sites, leading to a repeat of the 8-hour lines seen in last year’s primary election where some voters didn’t cast their ballot until 3 a.m.
And it’s not the only voter suppression bill making its way through the state legislature. One week before SB 7 passed the state Senate, Republican Chair of the House Elections Committee Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) denied nearly 200 Texans who came to Austin to give testimony during a Texas House hearing on a similar “voter integrity” bill — House Bill 6.
The proposed HB 6 would outright ban local election officials from proactively sending mail ballot applications to voters, leaving seniors and voters with disabilities with few options to get a mail ballot.
HB 6 would also make it a felony to use public money to help a third party send vote-by-mail applications that were not requested by a voter and gives the state attorney general broad authority to investigate and prosecute participants in get-out-the-vote (GOTV) campaigns with the threat of a felony conviction and jail time.
Just as in Georgia, corporations across the state and the nation are calling out Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas Republican leadership for attempting to restrict the people’s right to vote.
“To make American’s stance clear: We are strongly opposed to this bill and others like it,” Fort Worth-based American Airlines said in a statement.
“Free, fair, equitable access to voting is the foundation of American democracy. Those right(s) – especially for women, communities of color – have been hard-earned. Governments should ensure citizens have their voices heard. HB6 does the opposite, and we are opposed to it,” said Michael Dell, CEO of Round Rock-based Dell Technologies.
These and other similar rebukes from corporations led Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to address the backlash from corporations in a press conference Tuesday.
“Stay out of things you don’t know anything about,” Patrick directed his comments to corporations who have publicly come out against SB 7 and HB 6 in the state legislature. Apparently, Patrick is happy to have corporations’ money in politics, but not their voices.
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued a statement:
“These bills are racist Jim Crow-era laws and are an assault on our democracy. They have no place in Texas. We are grateful to the businesses standing up for Texans, for voting, and for our democracy. Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick are learning that voter suppression is bad for business.
“Texas is already the hardest state in the nation to vote in. These laws would add confusion to a complicated process and intimidate voters from casting their ballots. Republicans keep putting up roadblocks to make it harder to vote because they know that when people vote in large numbers, it’s always bad for their party.
“We cannot let Republicans take our rights away and let them silence our voices. We must expose their true intentions with these bills and build pressure to stop them from becoming law in Texas.”