HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner joined local officials, community and business leaders to denounce Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 6 Monday afternoon.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the proposed laws will prevent voter fraud and protect voter integrity.
Senate Bill 7 would limit extended early-voting hours, prohibit drive-thru voting and make it illegal for local election officials to proactively send applications to vote by mail to voters, even if they qualify.
Turner was joined by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, Fort Bend County Judge KP George and other community and business leaders to denounce what they call “voter suppression bills.”
“The right to vote is sacred,” Turner said.
The mayor stated that women and people of color have had to fight for their right to vote through the years. He said the state has concerns over voter fraud but little to no evidence has been found.
He said SB7 and HB6 restrict people’s right to vote, such as restricting how many voting machines can be used at a voting center. Turner said the bills also restrict extending hours of early voting, which he says 56% of voters who vote at late night hours are Black and Hispanic.
Hidalgo said what they are we are seeing is voter suppression in real-time from a party who has bought into conspiracy and lies that are directly attacking the success in Harris County voting turnout. She said it was the result of an election they didn’t like.
Hidalgo noted that the county made it easier for voters on both sides and there was record voting turnout in both parties. She said Harris county is leading its democratic right to vote.
“That right and initiatives are being taken away from the state,” Hidalgo said. “We can’t let what happened in Georgia, happen in Texas. that’s why we are standing here today.”
She asks businesses and local leaders to stand up and make their voices heard.
“We’ve seen this movie before. This is voter suppression,” Hidalgo said. “Both parties benefited from the voting increase in Harris County. We will have taken the largest step back since Jim Crow.”
Fort Bend County Judge KP George said people have fought and died for the right to vote and now is the time to make your voice heard.
“This is the time to not stand idle and watch this happened to people,” he said. “It about dignity.”
Commissioner Adrian Garcia said, “SB7 and HB6 are bills that are in pursuit of a problem that does not exist.”
Garcia said Ken Paxton, Attorney General of Texas, came up with 16 minor voting complications during the election, which he says is wasting money and a waste of time.
“We have other priorities like fixing the power grid,” he said.
Former Harris County Clerk, Chris Hollins, said 1.7 million people, from both sides, came out to make their voices heard in Harris County.
“We tripled the number of early voting centers to help people vote in a convenient way,” Hollins said.
He said the bills will make it illegal to have large voting centers or neighborhood voting centers.
Matt Bullard, who is representing the NBA, said the Houston Astros coach Dusty Baker spoke out against voter suppression.
Bullard said Texas is being beaten by Utah in voter rights and voting turnouts. He said Utah is known as an all-mail election and had a 69% voter turnout while Texas had a 44% turnout.
Bullard said the state is facing voter suppression based on “a big lie and false pretenses.”
He called on leaders in Texas to “stop goal tending our right to vote.”