Senate Bill 7: Proposed changes to how and when you vote

The highly contested bill could change the face of voting in Texas, if passed

When voters go to the polls this year, things will be drastically different, if Senate Bill 7 passes.

The Issue

When voters go to the polls this year, things will be drastically different, if Senate Bill 7 passes.

The Republican-sponsored bill was introduced back in March, and has already passed in the Texas Senate, and is now in the House. On the Republican side, the bill’s pro is said to help restore voter confidence and integrity. On the Democrat side, the argument is the Bill is going to limit voter access, in essence causing voter suppression.

Some proposals of the Bill include:

Will make it illegal for local election officials to mail out early voting ballots, unless requested by the voter

Will also entitle poll watchers to sit or stand near enough to see and hear the election officers conducting the observed activity, except as prohibited

Will require a signed form from anyone giving a ride to or assisting a person who cannot enter a polling place without assistance

Will limit extended early voting hours and would put an end to drive-thru voting

Read SB7 in its entirety here:

The Argument

Representatives from both sides of the aisle recently sat down with a KPRC Producer via Zoom to discuss Senate Bill 7. Republican Senator Paul Bettencourt, one of the co-authors of the Bill which recently passed in the Senate, says the Bill was presented to restore voter integrity and cut down on voter fraud. But, Democratic Senator Carol Alvarado says the Bill is about suppressing the voice of the voters who came out record numbers during the 2020 election, especially here in Harris County. Here, both give their perspectives on SB7.

Full interview with Santiago Franco
Full interview with Paul Bettencourt

How it Affects us All?

Dr. Michael Adams is a professor of Political Science at Texas Southern University. He says he believes the bill was written with places like Harris County in mind. If signed into law, SB7 would likely impact our State’s largest cities, including Houston, where voters have often stood in long lines.

“On this campus in the primary-people waiting in line till midnight on TSU campus to cast a ballot. Things are changing. This is what’s resonating with voters.

He continued, “We’ve seen a lot of the southern states, going back to 2010, enacting voter registration laws designed to place hoops in front of registered voters to have access to the ballot,” says Adams.

Dr. Adams says the electorate in Texas is changing and SB7 will affect voters in both parties, no matter the motivation that’s driving the bill.

“If you look at SB7, it seems to be written primarily aiming at what happened in Harris County during the 2020 general election. We saw modernization in terms of elections in Harris County in 2020, one of the smoothest operations in terms of making sure voters were informed and had access to the ballots.”

Even though SB7 is a Republican-sponsored bill, says both Republican and Democrat voters will be affected if it passes. HE says as a Political Scientist, he has to look at elections and analyze the data. He doesn’t think that people not having access will be reasons enough for them not to get out and vote. No matter how difficult it may be with the proposed changes at hand.

“Republicans tend to labor under the assumption that a low voter turnout tends to favor the elections of Republicans.”

He says he’s more concerned with the conveniences SB7 will inevitably take away from voters if passed.

“(SB7 is) designed to do away with 24-hour voting, do away with drive-thru voting. It’s designed to eliminate all of those things that we could elude to as progress in making sure that one’s access to the ballot and right to vote was made easier.”

The Solution

No matter how things shake out with SB7, experts say, the only way to make significant change is to make sure you get out and vote.

According to the Texas Secretary of State website, in the State of Texas you are eligible to register to vote if:

  • You are a United States citizen;
  • You are a resident of the county where you submit the application;
  • You are at least 17 years and 10 months old, and you are 18 years of age on Election Day.
  • You are not a convicted felon (you may be eligible to vote if you have completed your sentence, probation, and parole); and
  • You have not been declared by a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be either totally mentally incapacitated or partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote.

To register to vote visit, https://www.votetexas.gov/register/index.html.

To confirm your voter registration status, visit https://teamrv-mvp.sos.texas.gov/MVP/mvp.do