Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick held a press conference Tuesday to discuss election security bills.
The press conference took place at 10:15 a.m.
Senate Bill 7 would limit extended early voting hours, prohibit drive-thru voting and make it illegal for local election officials to send applications to vote by mail to voters early, even if they qualify.
“I‘ve been asked why this bill is needed. It’s simple. The bill is needed because Americans no longer trust the system,” Patrick said.
Patrick said they aren’t trying to limit the polling locations with the bill, but are “standardizing” them. According to Patrick, there are 7,000 ballots from the 2020 election that still have not been resolved. He said the legislation would help make sure votes are counted on time. Patrick also shot down claims of racism and voter oppression, saying the media should “look up the numbers,” and “do your homework.”
“Voters want confidence in their election system. Senate Bill 7 is not voter suppression, it’s voter security,” Patrick said.
Concurrently, the Greater Houston Coalition For Justice held a virtual event, ran by MOVE Texas, to oppose the proposed measures which they say would suppress votes. Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke were among some of the attendees.
“Voter fraud does not exist and yet Republicans in the name of voter integrity are now engaging in racist voter suppression laws,” said Rev. Fredrick Haynes III of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas
Move Texas, a non-partisan non-profit called on companies to condemn the bills and stop them from making it to the governor’s desk.
“You cannot sit on the sidelines,” said Charlie Bonner, the group’s communication director. “You’re either defending voter rights or you support voter suppression.”
Texas-based companies, Dell and American Airlines have been outspoken against the proposed legislation. Advocates said statements alone aren’t enough, action is needed too.
“If AT&T can convince folks to upgrade a phone every few months, certainly they can convince folks that voter suppression is bad,” said Cliff Albright, co-founder and Exec. Director of Black Voters Matter.
In Houston, Mayor Sylvester Turner and other officials as well as representatives of civil rights and business groups on Monday spoke out against similar legislation advancing through the Texas Legislature that would reduce options to cast ballots and limit polling hours. Turner called the Texas legislation part of a national campaign to restrict voting rights.
“The governor is wrong. And just because he doesn’t want to throw out the ball at the Texas Rangers, find somebody else. There are a whole lot of people that can throw out that ball,” Turner said.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in the county where Houston is located, called the proposed legislation a “direct attack” on voter turnout efforts in her county, including 24-hour and drive-thru voting during November’s presidential election.
“If you’re a major corporation, whether based here in Texas or not, take a stand right now. Your influence and dollars can save us from this latest attack on our democracy. In fact, it may be the only thing that can,” Hidalgo said.