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The right to vote or the fight to vote? Progress Texas says proposed election bills would suppress votes in state

While there is a spate of bills lawmakers will consider, Senate Bill 7 is the granddaddy of them all.

One of the leading critics of the GOP effort to reform election laws in Texas said all of the Republican backed legislation is based on the “big lie of the 2020 election.”

The executive director of Progress Texas said because there was no widespread fraud last November, the bills under consideration in Austin are simply an attempt to suppress the vote.

“You can't think about this in terms of red and blue. You’ve got to think about this in terms of right and wrong,” Edward Espinoza said on Y’all-itics.  “And what is right is that our democratic systems, the small 'd' democratic, or the democracy, is able to thrive here.  And the way it's able to thrive is when people are able to participate.”

To hear more of the conversation with Espinoza, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | SpotifyStitcherAmazon Music

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While there is a spate of bills lawmakers will consider, Senate Bill 7 is the granddaddy of them all. 

Among other things, it would eliminate drive-thru voting, limit voting hours and make it much harder to vote by mail.

In fact, under Section 2.05, disabled voters trying to get a vote-by-mail ballot would have to supply written documentation of their disability.

“I think any kind of objective viewer is going to recognize that when you limit the hours of voting, when you pick and choose who can vote by mail and when you require some sort of evidence for somebody to say they’re disabled… could also be interpreted as a poll tax," said Espinoza. "When you look at these things together, that is not expanding the vote, that is suppressing the vote.”

Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, filed seven bills this session related to election reform.

Among other things, his legislation would not allow voters to register from a P.O. Box and would require all counties in Texas to have the same early voting hours and number of days in an election.

RELATED: Republicans won big in Texas. There's no need to disenfranchise Democrats, state senator says

The Republican scoffs at any suggestion that the bills being debated in Austin are an attempt to disenfranchise democratic voters.

There is no need for that, he said, because the GOP not only won in Texas during the 2020 election, they won big.

“We had record turnout, highest level and also the best percentages of turnout in 30 years. So, these criticisms aren’t based in fact,” Bettencourt said. “These are common sense reforms, not some grandiose scheme to turn back what was a big, successful election for turnout that was clearly obvious by the numbers.”

RELATED: New bill from Texas Republicans could wipe names off state voting rolls, tighten mail-in ballot requirements

Espinoza said if Democrats don’t have the votes to prevent the passage of these bills in Austin, then they’ll turn to voter frustration, the courts and most importantly, federal legislation that would establish nationwide standards for voting.

But Espinoza said that can’t happen without reforming the filibuster.

“The Federalist Papers taught us about the tyranny of the majority. What we’re seeing with the filibuster is the tyranny of the minority.”

The Senate Committee on State Affairs is scheduled to hold its first public hearing on SB 7 this Friday at 9 a.m.

Related resources:

Senate Committee on State Affairs: Texas Legislature Online - Committee Membership

Want to read more about a bill?  Texas Legislature Online - Bill Lookup

More on SB 7:   Texas Legislature Online - 87(R) Text for SB 7

Progress Texas:  Progress Texas

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