Voting rights activists and organizers kicked into high gear this afternoon after State Rep. Briscoe Cain, the Chair of the Texas House Elections Committee, tried to quickly sneak through legislation that many are calling the worst attack on voting rights in Texas since Jim Crow.
Cain attempted to hold a committee vote on Senate Bill 7, a massive restriction on voting rights that passed the Texas Senate last week. Cain’s maneuver was intended to bypass any public notice and testimony. Reactions from Democrats on the House committee were swift, and Cain said he would schedule a vote for later.
A coalition of voting rights organizations gathered at the Texas AFL-CIO to react to Cain’s stunt and to criticize SB 7. State Rep. John Bucy also noted that the House Elections Committee didn’t even have notice of the vote until minutes before it occurred.
Emily Eby, a staff attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, also spoke at the press conference. Eby pointed out that though Cain insisted that SB 7 is the same as House Bill 6, which passed out of his committee three weeks ago, HB 6 has actually not been posted online. “Why is he hiding HB 6 from Texans?” asked Eby.
Eby also spoke about the 22 hours of testimony that took place at the Capitol against HB 6. She also cited the numerous corporations and businesses that have spoken out against voter suppression legislation, like American Airlines and Dell. A report from the Texas Civil Rights Project from Perryman also shows the negative economic impact of SB 7.
Stephanie Gómez, the Associate Director of Common Cause Texas, also referenced the large public backlash to this legislation for why Cain attempted his gambit. “Over 10,000 voices of opposition, people who have been coming to the Capitol in a pandemic, people who have been signing petitions, calling offices, and protesting against these discriminatory bills has had an effect,” said Gómez.
Though Cain said he would reschedule a vote, it is not clear when that will take place.