May 6, 2021/Media, Press

Texas Lawmakers Address Voter Suppression Bills Threatening Voting Rights Ahead of Debate on House Floor

AUSTIN, Texas — Before the end of the state’s legislative session, Texas Republicans are rushing to pass legislation that threatens the rights of voters across the state. House Bill 6 (HB 6) is expected to be heard and voted on in the state House Thursday.

Thursday morning, Congressman Joaquín Castro (D-TX-20), Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-35), House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie), State Rep. Nicole Collier (D-Ft. Worth), Vice-Chair of the Texas House Committee on Elections Jessica González (D-Dallas) and Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa held a press conference at the State Capitol to address the voter suppression measures that HB 6 and Senate Bill 7 (SB 7) would impose on Texans exercising their right to vote in future elections. The full recording is available here.

Chair Chris Turner said the following:

“Make no mistake: House Bill 6, Senate Bill 7 — both these bills are voter suppression bills. They are intended to make it harder for Texans to cast a ballot….We know that shamefully Texas has a long history of systematically disenfranchising and suppressing the votes of Black and Hispanic Texans….The 67 members of the House Democratic Caucus — we come from all over this state, from Beaumont to El Paso, from the Valley to North Texas — and we stand united in opposition to any attempts to make it more difficult for our constituents to vote.”

Vice-Chair of the House Committee on Elections Jessica González said the following:

“As a woman of color who has worked with the Department of Justice on these issues, and as somebody who led the charge on voter protection efforts in Nevada in 2012, I know what discrimination looks like, and HB 6 is just that. It’s old Jim Crow dressed up in what Republicans are calling ‘election integrity.’ What we can’t deny is Texas’s long history of using a racially gerrymandered legislature and blatant attempts to pass legislation that is aimed at and has the effect of disenfranchising people of color. Yet here we are again….After 20-plus hours of testimony, of people testifying about the dangerous effect that this bill will have on Texan voters, this bill was still rammed through committee and we’re still being forced to hear it despite the outcries from the public.”

State Rep. Nicole Collier said the following:

“They say everything is bigger in Texas. That couldn’t be more true about the way Texas has repeatedly attempted to disenfranchise people of color and suppress our vote. From the long-ago time of ‘Black code’ laws that birthed the Jim Crow era, where we saw literacy tests implemented before you could vote — that excluded white people under the guise of a ‘grandfather clause’ because they could vote before. We saw poll taxes required, where you had to pay to play with voting. We saw gerrymandering. HB 6 is no different. Senate Bill 7 is no different. It’s another attempt to disenfranchise and make it harder for people to vote. It empowers those same poll [watchers] who were originally created to intimidate voters of color. It encourages them to deter voters. This is not about protecting the polls. It’s to keep you away from the polls… Today, we stand against HB 6 and SB 7 because they are remnants of the past. We don’t want to go back — we want to move forward.”

Congressman Lloyd Doggett said the following:

“Lasting success cannot be built on blocking access. But it’s understandable that Republicans, who have gone soft on sedition, soft on political violence, soft on lies, and soft on fantasies, rely on suppression in an attempt to cling to power. We [as Democrats] favor turning out the votes, not throwing out the voters….Republicans are so very fearful of the strength of empowered Texans voting, that they are desperately attempting to add even more tools to their overloaded voter suppression toolbox. Texas is already ground zero for voter suppression. One recent study found that our state was the most difficult place to vote in the entire nation. But based on the record turnout of Texans last year to overcome those obstacles, what is the Republican response? ‘We haven’t made it difficult enough.’… Let’s preserve our precious but all-too-precarious democracy by honoring, above all, the voice of the people expressed in free and fair elections.”

Congressman Joaquín Castro said the following:

“Over the last few years, elections in Texas have actually gotten more competitive between the two parties, yet Republicans in the 2021 session have gotten more extreme.

“The response to more competitive elections in Texas, by the Republican Party, has been to try and stop people who disagree with them from voting. Their answer is not to make voting easier, it’s not to take Texas from ranking almost dead last in voter participation in the country, and opening up the voting process, welcoming more Texans in to vote. Their answer is to hang on to power by stopping people from voting. Their strategy is not good governance, it’s not great ideas — their strategy, Texans, is to keep you from voting.”

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said the following:

“Folks, let’s not forget the bottom line of what this is all about… At the end of the day, a large majority of people in this state do not want laws that restrict their right to vote; they want laws that make it easier for them to vote. When they get out of work at 7 or 8 o’clock at night and they’re tired, they want to be able to go to a polling place to vote at their leisure… They want an opportunity to go to a polling place close to where they’re at, they want an opportunity to go to a large polling place where there’s a lot of voters and they can see their friends and go together and exercise the most democratic thing this country stands for: the right to vote. This is what the Republicans are trying to deprive voters of in the state of Texas, and it is shameful… Let’s get good government back in the state of Texas.”

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