Texas House Republicans passed partisan House Bill 6 out of the House Elections Committee on Thursday, moving the bill forward toward a full House vote.
The election bill would impose criminal penalties on local election officials and is a part of national-level Republican efforts to restrict voting practices after waves of voter fraud accusations followed the November 2020 presidential election. Earlier this year, Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov Dan Patrick made election integrity a priority for the legislature, despite admitting no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state.
“People in America have lost faith in their elections, in the outcome, and we have to resolve that issue in this country and in this state and that’s why Senate Bill 7 is needed,” Patrick said.
Authored by Rep. Briscoe Cain, the measure would make it a felony for an election official to give a voter an absentee ballot application or solicit the submission of an application without a request. It would also restrict help for voters with disabilities or language barriers. It specifically targets pandemic-related initiatives that Republicans attacked in November last year in efforts to throw out nearly 127,000 Harris County votes. The challenge was ultimately rejected in the Texas Supreme Court.
The legislation has attracted significant backlash. Over 17 hours of testimony were heard last week and prominent Democrats have spoken out against the measure. Among them, former Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, a Democrat and founder of the voting rights group Fair Fight, said the Texas House measure “won’t just restrict voter access, it will criminalize voting with harsh penalties. Voters and business leaders must speak up while there is time to stop it from becoming law.”
Dell Technologies, American Airlines and AT&T are among corporations who have publicly declared their opposition to the Republican legislative proposals. Republican leadership have condemned the reactions from these corporations.
“You’ve meddled in a lot of issues lately … stay out of things you don’t know anything about and if you want to get involved then you’re taking that risk.” Lt. Gov Dan Patrick stated. “You have a right to your opinion, but read the damn bill before you give one.”