Republican efforts to make it harder for Texans — especially Texans of color — to vote are racing forward this week. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s Senate on Wednesday gave preliminary approval to a sweeping voter suppression bill, and a key House committee heard testimony on its own version today. Check out our press release:
Senate Advances Sweeping Bill, While House Committee Chair Pushes Ahead on Its Own Version
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 1, 2021
Texas Freedom Network President Val Benavidez today criticized Republican lawmakers for racing ahead in their efforts to pass sweeping legislation that would make it harder for Texans — especially Texans of color — to cast ballots in future elections.
On Wednesday the Senate Republicans gave preliminary approval to SB7 on a party-line vote, and the House Elections Committee today is hearing testimony on HB6, a similar voter suppression bill. Last week House Elections Committee Chair Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, had to shut down the committee hearing on HB6, a bill he authored, after he mistakenly violated procedural rules in a frantic effort to stop the chair of the Legislative Black Caucus from asking questions about how the bill would suppress voting.
“Voting is fundamental to our democracy and should be free, fair and accessible for all eligible voters,” Benavidez said. “But even as Rep. Cain has trouble following simple procedural rules in a public hearing, he wants to impose a complex web of new and unnecessary restrictions that make voting even harder for many Texans and in some cases leave them vulnerable to prosecution if they make honest mistakes.”
Together the bills impose a slew of voting restrictions, like limits on early and mail-in absentee voting, as well as bans on secure mobile and drive-thru voting locations. They also create new paperwork and rules for helping Texans, like seniors and disabled people, cast a ballot. And they throw open the door to voter intimidation by political activists masquerading as “poll watchers.” Together these provisions would raise new barriers to voting especially in highly populated urban areas, where many Texans of color live.
These kinds of unnecessary barriers are how voter suppression works, Texas Rising Action Director Rae Martinez said.
“The truth is supporters of these bills want to make it harder for Texans to vote because they don’t like what a lot of voters have to say, especially voters of color,” Martinez said. “That betrays our democratic values and our belief in free and fair elections. And it’s right out of the old Jim Crow playbook.”
Texas Rising, TFN’s youth-organizing program, contacted nearly 2 million young eligible voters, many of them Texans of color, in a massive get-out-the-vote campaign in 2020. Texas saw historic turnout last year, when local officials worked to make voting safe and secure during the COVID pandemic.
The Texas Freedom Network (tfn.org) is a grassroots organization of religious and community leaders and young Texans building an informed and effective movement for equality and social justice. Learn more about TFN’s Texas Rising Action program at txrising.org.