Texas, like Florida, located no systemic problems with fraud in the 2020 election, and Trump won both states. In fact, the Texas attorney general’s office turned up just 16 cases of fraud in 2020 out of more than 11 million votes cast. Republicans’ fraud search was a complete bust, even after Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick floated a $1 million reward for any tips that lead to fraud convictions. House Democrats used much of their debate time making the point that the bill was a solution in search of a problem.
“If it’s not broken, what are we trying to fix?” Democratic Rep. Jessica González asked the bill’s sponsor, GOP Rep. Briscoe Cain, on the House floor Thursday.
Cain responded, “We don’t need to wait for bad things to happen to try to secure our elections.”
Although Cain asserted that the bill wasn’t a response to 2020, it most definitely was. The problem Republicans located was actually how many people voted successfully last fall, particularly in Democratic strongholds like Houston in Harris County, home to a large number of voters of color. Based on changes made by Harris County officials last year, such as offering drive-thru voting and 24-hour polling stations, the county had already posted record turnout in October with one day left of early voting.
According to the Texas Tribune:
As passed in the Senate, the legislation restricted early voting rules and schedules to do away with extended hours and ban drive-thru voting. It also required large counties to redistribute polling places under a formula that could move sites away from areas with more Hispanic and Black residents.
Those and other provisions fell off when it was reconstituted in the House Elections Committee, with little notice and without a public hearing, to match the House’s priorities contained in House Bill 6.
The House bill does, however, ban the distribution of applications for mail-in ballots, a direct response to Harris County’s efforts last year to proactively send applications to all of its 2.4 million registered voters instructing them how to determine if they were eligible.
The Tribune adds:
Other Texas counties sent unsolicited applications to voters 65 and older without much scrutiny. Those voters automatically qualify to vote by mail, but sending them unsolicited applications would also be blocked under the bill.
Bottom line, it’s not entirely clear what will be included in the final version of the bill that reaches Abbott’s desk, but it will clearly be an attack on voting rights specifically targeted at voters of color and Democratic strongholds in the state.
That may ultimately land Texas in the hot seat with corporate America.