The Texas Senate has begun debate on SB 7, "relating to elections, including election integrity and security." The measure would tighten regulations on mail-in ballots and ban drive-thru voting locations.
SB 7 would require voters to submit a doctor's note confirming a disability when applying for a mail-in ballot application. The measure would also require each polling location to have the same number of voting machines despite its size.
"We're talking about lines that could last until 3 a.m." says Dallas County Democrats' Joanna Cattanach. "We're talking about the elimination of drive-thru voting. If you have to have the same number of voting machines in Dallas County, that looks very different than it does in Hill County."
"This does not prevent people from voting," says the Dallas County Republican Party's Will Busby. "Liberals love to give scary talking points and use scary buzz words, but if you read the bill, you'll find their claims are completely baseless."
Busby says the measure only intends to protect the integrity of elections. In last year's primary, a state district judge ordered a recount when 9,149 ballots from 44 machines were found in Dallas County. The missed ballots did not alter the results of any race.
A federal judge ordered sweeps of postal service facilities after the November election, when 815 mail-in ballots were discovered at 14 facilities in Texas.
"We know there are problems with voting by mail," Busby says. "In Dallas County, just last fall, the elections administration couldn't keep an accurate count of applications received or ballots sent out. Some people never got ballots they requested. Others went to the wrong address. This bill simply upholds election integrity and restores the trust of people in our electoral system, which, as public servants, should be something we make sure is our top priority."
Opponents say the measure would advance voter suppression.
"The right to vote's got blood on it. I went to funerals for people who gave their lives for the right to vote," says Rev. Peter Johnson, a civil rights leader in Dallas. "I took 14 beatings in the civil rights movement, 9 of them directly related to trying to register Negroes to vote. America is backing up."
The full text of the bill is available here.