WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week, Texas Republicans advanced Senate Bill 7, one of a slate of recent voter suppression bills that would severely restrict voting options in the state. S.B. 7 would restrict early voting hours, ban drive-through voting, prevent election officials from encouraging vote by mail applications, require disabled voters who vote by mail to provide proof of disability and more.
In committee last Friday, there were more than five hours of public testimony, mostly against the bill, before Texas Republicans advanced the legislation. The AARP, League of Women Voters, Texas Civil Rights Project, NAACP and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) all made their opposition clear on Friday, either in testimony or through the threat of litigation should the bill pass.
S.B. 7 also permits partisan poll watchers to film any voters who receive help with their ballots that the watcher “reasonably believes to be unlawful” — a provision that MALDEF vice president for litigation Nina Perales argued would unfairly target Latino voters. “Only voters who receive assistance are singled out in this way by these provisions. Most limited English proficient voters in Texas are Latino; many use assisters to vote and will be intimidated and deterred from voting by having poll watchers record them and stand close to them while they vote.”
The bill now heads to the full state Senate.