Texas House Passes Anti-Voter Bill
Just before midnight, the Texas State House passed SB 1, a bill that will make it harder for Texans to vote, particularly the elderly, people with disabilities, and Texans of color. The legislation was passed by a 79-37 vote with Republican legislators rushing in more than 30 amendments in a matter of hours. The bill empowers partisan poll watchers to bully and intimidate voters and eliminates safe voting options, like drive-thru voting, as the state experiences a dangerous surge in COVID-19 cases. The bill now returns to the Senate for a vote on whether to approve the new version.
The bill is part of the national wave of voter suppression bills being passed in state legislatures across the country. The anti-voter wave is in reaction to the unprecedented voter turnout in the November 2020 presidential election. In Texas, more than 66 percent of voters cast a ballot in the November election, seven percent higher than in 2016 and eight percent higher than in 2012. To date, 18 states have enacted 30 new laws that would suppress the right to vote.
Statement of Common Cause Texas Associate Director Stephanie Gómez
There is nothing more fundamental than our freedom to vote.
In a healthy democracy, elected leaders put the needs of our community above their own political ambitions or face the consequences on Election Day. Voting is how we hold our leaders accountable to we the people.
But in Texas—for the second time—the state legislature has voted in the middle of the night to make it harder for Texans to vote on the issues we care about most.
SB1 is nothing more than a partisan power grab that will help the politicians stay in power and drown out the voices of Texans. Governor Abbott and partisan operatives will do whatever it takes to hold onto power, no matter the cost to our communities.
SB1 will make it harder for tens of thousands of Texans to make their voices heard in our democracy. It will eliminate safe voting options like drive-thru voting, a move that will put every Texan at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.
We need our elected leaders to suppress this virus — not our right to vote.
Tonight, more than 13,000 of our fellow Texans are in the hospital fighting for their lives because of the misplaced priorities of this Governor and partisan state legislators. As Texans fight the COVID-19 virus, we will continue to fight back against the voter suppression virus in our state capitol.
We believe in everyone’s right to equitably access the ballot box. We will continue to fight until every Texas voter — regardless of race, ethnicity, geographic location, class, political affiliation — can freely and fairly cast a ballot on Election Day.