AUSTIN, Texas - Senate Bill 7, controversial voting legislation, passed the Texas House Friday.
Republicans say the legislation will "maintain election integrity," while Democrats say it's designed to disenfranchise voters.
"This bill, SB 7, rode into the Texas House cloaked in that long-standing pre-text of purity of ballot box and that purity has denied full participation of African Americans and Latinos," said state Rep. Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas).
In an April press conference Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said "we must stop this race-baiting on every issue, election security is what the public wants."
On Friday, Democrats accused Republicans of capitalizing on debunked conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud for personal political gain. Some pointed out that the Texas Attorney General's Office identified just 16 "problem ballots" during an investigation into the 2020 election.
"Roughly 1 in 700,000 votes. 1 in 700,000 y’all that’s roughly the same as your chance of being struck by a meteorite. Anybody in here even heard of somebody being struck by a meteorite?" asked state Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston).
Democrats effectively shelled the bill, passing dozens of amendments. Still, Rep. Anchía said he is worried about what’s left.
"You can’t help the elderly community. You can’t help senior citizens. You can’t even sort of counsel them on voting if they ask you without signing some sort of oath or affirmation. The second thing I’m worried about is these partisan poll watchers looking over people's shoulders interfering with the election process." he said.
The amended bill heads back to the Texas Senate. If the Senate rejects the amended bill, members of both parties will have to work things out in a conference committee. That will be done in private.
"Rep. [Briscoe] Cain you have your vote. You have your majority. But guess what? I look forward to seeing you in federal court. What I know from my days of voting rights in this chamber you may have the vote today but we are equal in federal court and history's on our side, intent is on our side, so please do not delete any emails." said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio).