Texas lawmakers introduced a restrictive election bill to a House committee Thursday morning despite major criticism from Democrats, business and voting rights advocates.
The legislation would impose criminal penalties for mistakes made during the electoral process, for example by making it a crime for an official to give a voter a request for a postal vote or to solicit the submission of a request if the voter fails to do so. not ask first.
The measure, House Bill 6, is one of dozens of restrictions being considered by Texas lawmakers this session. While the bill says it aims to “reduce the likelihood” of voter fraud in elections, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Texas or elsewhere. Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has made electoral integrity a priority for the legislature.
Austin billionaire Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Technologies, spoke out against the bill last week.
“Free, fair and equitable access to the vote is the foundation of American democracy,” he tweeted. “These rights – especially for women, communities of color – have been hard won. Governments should ensure that citizens have their voices heard. HB6 does the opposite, and we are opposed to it.
American Airlines has also spoken out against another election bill put forward by Republicans, Senate Bill 7, and more than 200 companies have spoken out more broadly against voter suppression.
Republicans have responded with fury to corporate pressure.
“Texans are fed up with companies that don’t share our values that try to dictate public policy,” Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a statement.
Texas leads the country in terms of the number of proposed electoral restrictions, but former President Donald Trump’s repeated lies about election theft have inspired an avalanche of election bills across the country. Clearly, the 2020 election was safe and the results were accurate. Trump’s Attorney General William Barr said there was no evidence of widespread electoral fraud and that Trump’s legal efforts to overturn the results failed in courtrooms across the country.
State Republicans across the country, many of whom backed Trump in his false election claims, say electoral restrictions are important in restoring confidence in the electoral process.
“The bill is necessary because Americans no longer trust the system,” Patrick said at a press conference defending Texas legislative work on the Senate measure. “When you suggest that we try to suppress the vote, you are essentially, between the lines, calling us racists, and that will not stay!”