Despite All-Night Testimony from Hundreds of Texans & House Democrats, Republicans Remain Poised to Advance Voter Suppression Bill HB 6
AUSTIN, Texas — Yesterday, after Republican roadblocks stopped Texans from giving testimony last week, Texans finally had the chance to testify in the House Elections Committee on HB 6, a discriminatory voter suppression bill. Hundreds of Texans testified against the legislation — traveling from all across the state, with some waiting over 22 hours to testify — and highlighted the inequities HB6 would create for communities of color and voters with disabilities.
Together with its corollary in the Texas Senate, Senate Bill 7, HB 6 represents the worst voter suppression legislation our state has seen since Jim Crow, and a flagrant attack on the voting rights of people of color and voters with disabilities. House Bill 6 would put up barriers to voting by mail, invade voters’ privacy if they need assistance in voting, and force elections officials to allow disruptive poll watchers in polling places — clearing the way for discriminatory voter intimidation. Democrats and voting rights advocates are doing everything in their power to defeat the bill. Last week, after Rep. Briscoe Cain’s alleged procedural error stopped Texans from testifying as planned, Democratic legislators and advocates organized a citizens’ hearing to ensure Texans’ voices could be heard.
Early this morning, around 5:15 am, after more than twelve hours of testimony during the 22-hour hearing, House Elections Committee Vice-Chair Rep. Jessica González raised a point of order. She noted that the Committee Chair had not provided a section-by-section bill analysis before the hearing began, as required by House rules. This deficiency was highlighted when the Chair repeatedly deflected witnesses’ criticisms by indicating that the provisions they were pointing toward were not in the bill or had been removed in the latest committee substitute that the public did not have access to. In a narrow 5-4 vote along party lines, the committee voted to sustain the decision of the presiding committee member, Rep. Travis Clardy, to overrule the point of order. The bill did not receive a vote on Friday morning, but Republicans are poised to advance the bill despite overwhelming evidence that this will jeopardize Texans’ ability to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued the following statement:
“Texas Democrats in the House Elections Committee made us proud yesterday. We thank our legislators for their tireless fight against voter suppression bill HB 6, and in particular Vice-Chair Jessica González for her strength and leadership on the committee. Our Democratic champions are fighting with everything they’ve got to stop House Bill 6 — and the Jim Crow-era voter intimidation practices it would engender.
“Texans traveled from across the state to speak against this legislation on behalf of their communities — some waiting over 22 hours to provide three minutes of testimony to the committee. Their voices were heard because, like many who came before them in the fight for voting rights, they refused to be silenced. For every Republican who is supporting this voter suppression legislation, we have a message for you: if you try to sink Texas back into Jim Crow, you will wear that shame forever. An attack on our voting rights is an attack on our communities and our future. We will win this, because we will not stop fighting until we do.”