TEXAS — There is a chance you will see changes to voting regulations before the general elections on May 1. Senate Bill 7 is legislation for tighter voter restrictions that just passed through the Texas Senate.
While the bill is on the way to the House, where it could gain final approval, lawmakers continue to disagree on what the bill means for voters.
Republican leaders say Senate Bill 7 is a way to clean elections up and prevent voter fraud. Then there are Democratic leaders who say this bill is racist and have even described it as “Jim Crow 2.0.”
Texas leaders are outspoken about Senate Bill 7. State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, and state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Tyler, are not shy about their feelings towards the election bill.
“I think it’s ill-advised and goes against the principles of democracy,” said Coleman.
“When we look at this bill, in particular, I think folks are going to be pleased,” said Hughes.
Social activists like Cliff Albright with Black Voters Matters, who travel all over the country, are stopping in Texas to help people register to vote. The group is branding this state bill as a weapon to create voter suppression. If passed through the Texas House, the bill will have the power to stop drive-thru voting options and polling places will not be permitted stay open for 24 hours, providing less time for voters to cast ballots.
Those against the bill are comparing it to a voting bill that just became law four states over in Georgia. There, to get mail-in ballots voters have to provide a driver’s license number or other documentation.
“It’s no coincidence that some of the same things you saw in the Georgia suppression law are trying to get passed right here in Texas. We’re seeing this in state after state. Some of the same features. We saw it years ago ... voter ID, right? That spread across the state and the country. We’re seeing the same thing now,” Albright added.
“Jim Crow never ended. It just ramped up into a new version that does the same thing,” Coleman explained.
Hughes doesn’t want voters to be drowned out by what he calls “partisan noise.” He believes Senate Bill 7 is something voters should appreciate because he says it will erase any fear of election fraud.
“Some people have asked me about the Georgia bill. I don’t know. Talk to somebody in Georgia. This is about elections in Texas and over the years, we continue to do reforms to our system,” the senator stated.
If Senate Bill 7 is not defeated in the Texas House, Cliff says he’ll ramp up the work he’s doing with Black Voters Matter to keep people civically engaged. He’s also looking to politicians at the nation’s capital to implement federal voting rights protections to make sure voters won’t have to jump through hoops and hurdles to have their voices heard.