HOUSTON - So called "election integrity" measures marching through the Texas legislature were condemned Wednesday in the harshest possible terms by both Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Chris Hollins, the architect of Harris County's record voter turn-out.
"These bills are part of a national campaign to restrict people's right to vote and to intimidate people while they are voting, quite frankly, these are Jim Crow 2.0 bills," said Turner.
Hollins, who served as the county's chief election officer during 2020, says House Bill 6, and its companion, Senate Bill 7, not only seek to outlaw innovations like drive-thru-voting and 24-Hour-polling places, but also to make it more difficult for Texans of Color to cast ballots.
"Why are we taking 24-hour voting away? Because 56 percent of voters in November who used 24-hour voting were people of color and they know that. Why are we taking drive-thru voting away? Because 53 percent of those voters in 2020 were people of color," said Hollins.
Responding from the state capitol, Representative Briscoe Cain, author of HB 6, says the allegations of "suppression" are absolutely false and the suggestion of racial targeting founded in partisan propaganda.
"Racism is disgusting. It is a stain on this country. I would not be supporting these bills or any of these bills if I believed they were designed to disenfranchise any voters," said Cain.
Senate Bill 7 author, Houston State Senator Paul Bettencourt went a notch further.
"I totally and utterly reject that comparison to Jim Crow 2. It's not real. It's not historical and it's not factual," said Bettencourt.
Democrats lack the votes to block the election security measures, which means their best hope is to spark enough protest to persuade Republicans to alter or drop controversial provisions before both chambers take a final vote.