Texas lawmakers debate bills that would change election laws statewide
HOUSTON - Texas lawmakers are using a special legislative session to consider two bills that would change election laws statewide.
"We’re making it easier to vote by adding more hours of early voting," said Texas Governor Greg Abbott on FOX News Sunday morning. "But, also making it harder to cheat."
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House Bill 3 (HB 3) and Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) are very similar. If passed, they would force people to request a mail-in-ballot in order to receive one with identification, allow closer access for poll watchers to observe elections, while also banning 24-hour and drive-thru voting.
The bills have been controversial. Some believe they would suppress minority votes.
"It’s not voter integrity," said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. "It’s voter restriction, suppression, and intimidation. It’s Jim Crow 2.0. What they’re attempting to put in place will have a disproportional impact on people of color."
On Sunday, we also spoke with Texas District 1 Senator Bryan Hughes ( R ) who drafted SB 1.
"This is a good bill," said Hughes. "It’s going to clean up the process for everyone. Everybody, regardless of their politics or race, everyone wants their vote to count. It just makes sense."
We asked Hughes, if he believes SB 1 would decrease minority votes.
"We hear that argument, but we don’t see any evidence of it," said Hughes. "If we let people know this is a secure system, and your vote is going to be counted accurately, they’re going to want to vote."
Republicans believe SB 1 and HB 3 would promote election integrity. However, democrats argue there’s no evidence of impactful voter fraud in recent Texas elections.
"My question continues to be; how much fraud is okay?" said Hughes.
"I don’t think there’s one judge, republican or democrat across the country, that said the 2020 election was invalid or illegitimate," said Turner. "The leadership in Austin is trying to put in place bills to fix a problem that doesn’t exist. They want to label it as voter integrity."
Hundreds of people were in Austin over the weekend to try and speak about these bills.
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Governor Abbott says the bills could increase election turnout by adding more time for early voting.
"I don’t care how you dress up that duck," said Turner, referring to the bills as restrictive. "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s still a duck. Quack, quack."
"This bill is about Texas elections," said Hughes. "It’s about common sense reforms that are based on testimony we’ve heard from Texans."
The special legislative session will continue this week.