Conference Committee’s Frankenstein SB 7 Is Still Racist, Ableist, Blatant Voter Suppression
AUSTIN, Texas — Saturday morning, after a months-long fight against SB 7, Texas Republicans’ hallmark anti-voter legislation, the SB 7 conference committee filed their Frankenstein’s monster version of the bill. Now, both legislative chambers will need to vote on the bill before the weekend is up in order for it to become law. SB 7 remains a racist, anti-democracy bill that will cement Texas’s ranking as the hardest state in the country to vote in. At the very end of a legislative session marred by Republicans’ refusal to take action on the critical issues facing our state, Republicans are scrambling to prevent Texans from holding them accountable for their inexcusably poor job performance — by passing legislation to stop Texans from voting.
The conference committee’s version of SB 7 would:
- Make it harder to vote by mail, when Texas already has some of the strictest vote-by-mail eligibility criteria in the country. It limits even further who is eligible to vote by mail, increases barriers by requiring a mail voter to provide their driver’s license number or last four digits of their social security number on their application and ballot, and adds application requirements for individuals with disabilities to vote by mail.
- Limit early voting hours and flexibility, including limiting early voting hours on Sundays — directly targeting Souls to the Polls efforts that are predominantly used by Black communities. By reducing early voting options, this provision will make it harder for working Texans — disproportionately people of color — to vote.
- Create additional barriers to voting for Texans with disabilities, including adding requirements for people assisting them, limitations on and new steps for curbside voters who get a ride to the polls, and new constraints on mail voting eligibility. It also invades the privacy of voters with disabilities by requiring them to disclose the nature of their disability in order to vote by mail.
- Put up additional barriers to voter registration, when Texas already has some of the most restrictive and least convenient voter registration processes in the country. It bans sending applications to unregistered voters that already have their name and address filled out, which has been proven to increase the number of people who get registered to vote in time.
Texas Democratic Party Voter Protection Director Rose Clouston issued the following statement:
“A bedrock principle of our democracy is that voters pick their leaders. However, right now, Texas Republicans are trying to hand pick their voters. They saw Texans come out to vote in record numbers last year, they saw Democrats close the gap to within striking distance at the presidential level, and they’ve watched Texans work relentlessly to bring in new leaders who will actually fight for our communities. But rather than meet the moment and become the leaders Texans need to pull us out of this pandemic and keep the lights on, Republicans have chosen to attack our right to vote. They know they have failed Texans at every turn and are terrified of being held accountable for those failures.
“Texans deserve better. We encourage every Texan to call their legislator right now and tell them to vote no on SB 7. Because Texans deserve to have a say in our government and cast our ballots freely and conveniently.
“It’s fitting that SB 7 may be the last item on the legislative agenda this year. If Republicans vote right now to strip Texans of their voting rights, Texas Democrats will work every day for the next 17 months to make sure that is the last vote these Republican legislators ever take in the Capitol.”