voting rights

Texas Senate Passes More Restrictive Voting Bill

The Texas House has similar legislation

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Texas Senate Bill 7 passed on Thursday, after a marathon session that went into the early hours.

The bill, would limit polling hours, eliminate drive-through voting, and some changes to the mail-in ballot process.

“We want to make sure that people know that when they vote their vote will be counted and counted accurately and that the system is fair and the system is transparent. If folks do not have that confidence they'll cease participating and everybody loses when that happens,” said State Rep. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), one of the authors.

Elections had been a top priority of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) when the Senate began its session.

"Maintaining the integrity of our elections is vital to preserving public trust so our democracy can flourish, and that’s why I have made election security a top priority again this legislative session. SB 7 will strengthen the public’s faith in our electoral process and ensure that every Texan knows that when they cast their ballot, their vote is secure. I congratulate Sen. Hughes and the Texas Senate for passing these comprehensive reforms,” said Patrick in a statement.

On the floor, State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) said there was a lack of input from civil rights groups.

“We have suggested to you different instances in this particular bill smacks of suppression. You still have not heard us. I hope one day that you hear us not only hear us but listen to us,” said West.

Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa blasted the legislation, and promised action, saying “Texas Republicans are delusional if they expect anyone to accept this legislation without a fight. Democrats, allies, and voting rights advocates are speaking as one, and our message is clear: when Republicans attempt to silence Texans, we only get louder. We will fight tooth and nail to stop this bill from being signed into law, and if it is, we will see Republicans in court. An attack on our right to vote is an attack on our communities and our future. We will not be silenced.”

Meantime, a group of religious leaders from across Texas said they'll head to Austin next week to fight the legislation.

“We are going to have a clergy day of action next week.  Not only that but we are also going to be calling upon and challenging our corporate partners in the state of Texas to stand against this bill and to stand against all forms of voter suppression, “ said Dr. Frederick Haynes, The Pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church.

This Senate bill now goes to the Texas House. Similar House legislation is in front of the elections committee, and if passed, will go to the full House for a vote.

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