MOVE Texas, a nonpartisan voter registration group, announced Monday they would be launching a six-figure ad campaign against Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 6, Gov. Greg Abbott’s pick for “election integrity” legislation to pass this session.
“As Texas struggles to recover from a disastrous storm response by our state leaders, Governor Abbot and the state legislature are trying to take away your right to vote,” the ad warns.
The online, radio, and social media ads will appear in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Lubbock, Amarillo, and the Rio Grande Valley.
Both Republican bills aim to restrict the ability of local election officials and voter registration groups to encourage vote-by-mail. If passed, election clerks, election administrators, and third parties would not be able to send out mail ballot applications unless they are requested by a voter — a direct response Harris County where officials attempted to send out more than 2 million mail ballot applications before being stopped by the Texas Supreme Court.
Senate Bill 7, the more restrictive bill of the two bills, also makes it more difficult for disabled Texans to claim a disability in their mail ballot application. In order to vote by mail on the grounds of disability, voters would need written documentation from a federal agency or a doctor’s note as proof — strict requirements described as a poll tax by Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. Additionally, Senate Bill 7 would restrict voting hours to between 7:00 a.m and 7:00 p.m. (a response to Harris County’s 24-hour voting sites) and would prevent voting sites in “temporary” structures, like tents, seen in Harris County drive-thru voting sites.
“At this point, it seems that these lawmakers are more committed to voter suppression than they are to winning elections,” Charlie Bonner, communications director for MOVE Texas told the Signal. “At a certain point, they’re starting to cut out their own voters too. But their primary focus is going after Black and Brown voters, young first-time voters, and most egregiously voters with disabilities.”
Bonner said SB 7 would criminalize simple mistakes in the voter registration process and scare local election officials and groups like MOVE from trying to get more Texans to the polls.
“They’re trying to have a chilling effect, to scare people out of this process, to tell you that it’s not worth it, that the penalties are too high,” Bonner said. “We’ve seen it time and time again. There are many campaigns in this state that don’t do voter registration because they think the liabilities are too high.”
Senate Bill 7 was scheduled for a committee hearing on Monday but that public hearing was delayed after Democrats invoked a procedural rule. House Bill 6 is scheduled for a Texas House House Elections Committee hearing on Thursday.
Both pieces of legislation are a top priority for Abbott, who has repeatedly claimed they are necessary because of widespread voter fraud in the state. Earlier this month, the governor was unable to give a clear answer when asked about the severity of election fraud in Texas and was only able to ambiguously say that incidents of voter fraud did occur in 2020.
While individual cases of voter fraud exist, they are extremely rare and hardly constitute the widespread or systemic voter fraud that Trump and Texas Republicans say is occurring. In 2020, the Houston Chronicle reported that Texas Attorney Ken Paxton found only 16 cases of voter fraud in the general election out of more than 11 million votes.
Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org