Houston - A controversial bill at the Texas capitol could soon impact voting laws statewide.
Texas Senate Bill 7 (SB7) was approved by the state’s senate early Sunday morning. The Texas house is expected to vote on SB 7 Sunday evening and if passed the legislation would go to Governor Greg Abbott’s desk by Monday’s deadline.
Similar to other states who passed new voting laws recently, SB 7 has gained national attention.
President Joe Biden described SB 7 as "an assault on democracy". President Biden went on to say, "It’s wrong and un-American. In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote."
Opinions of SB 7 have been largely split between Democrats and Republicans.
"We need to have faith in elections," said Houston City Councilman Greg Travis. "People need to know these are fair and just rules, and I think they are."
Many republicans believe SB 7 would help prevent election fraud.
"People will feel more secure in their vote, knowing the election was a valid election," said Travis. "Which is important. If your side wins, that’s great, but if your side loses, you need to know it was a fair election. You need to know things weren’t done improperly and the rules weren’t changed in the middle of the game."
Democrat lawmakers from throughout Texas held a press conference over Zoom Sunday to discuss SB 7. Many democrats believe SB 7 would suppress votes.
"It’s Jim Crow 2.0," said Chair of Senate Democratic Caucus Senator Carol Alvarado. "Here we go."
"This is going to make it harder for the average Texan to get out and cast their ballot," said former housing secretary Julián Castro. "Whether they’re republican or democrat, it’s clearly aimed at people of color."
If approved, Senate Bill 7 would only give mail-in voting applications to those who request them and provide their driver’s license number, or the last 4 digits of their social security number. It would also allow poll workers to be close to election activities for observation. SB 7 would get rid of drive-thru voting and 24-hour poll locations. In addition, weekday early voting would take place between 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Sundays 1 p.m. – 9 p.m.
"It’s just weakening the core of our democracy," said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. "This provision, that makes is easier for elections to be overturned, it’s almost hard to believe that could be part of a bill of real legislation."
"Anytime someone disagrees with someone, they call it racist," said Travis. "This is not a racist bill. It’s a bill of voter integrity."