Lawmakers await final vote on Texas Elections Bill

If passed, this will be considered one of the nation’s strictest voting laws.
Updated: Jun. 1, 2021 at 9:57 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - A walk-out by state Democrats this past Sunday prevented a vote on the controversial elections bill.

Texas Representative Richard Pena Raymond represents parts of Webb County and the City of Laredo.

Two days after the state legislature hit a standstill with Senate Bill 7, he is still waiting to give that speech.

The moment Texas Democrats successfully- but temporarily- blocked Senate Bill 7, also known as the Election Integrity Protection Act.

Introduced in March, the bill is described as “relating to election integrity and security by preventing fraud… and increasing criminal penalties.”

Texas is now following suit as other states passed their own voting reform bills that some argue disproportionately restrict access to minority populations.

“It’s all being driven by what is commonly referred to now as a big lie,” said Raymond. “Donald Trump lost the election last year, he wouldn’t accept that. That has led to movements to introduce bills like Senate Bill 7 here in Texas, it’s not only an overreaction, it goes against the grain of what this country is about.”

Representative Raymond says the elections bill makes it harder, not easier, for people to vote.

It would reduce early voting opportunities, limit access to voting by mail and threaten elections administrators with criminal penalties, among other provisions.

Secure democracy is a nonpartisan nonprofit that predicts the bill to restrict voting access for millions of Texans, especially those with disabilities.

“We believe fundamentally that election integrity does not have to come at the expense of ballot access,” said Sarah Walker, Secure Democracy executive director.

Texas is also one of only nine states that doesn’t offer online voter registration.

Online ballot tracking is also not available.

“If you’re talking about election integrity, you would think tracking your ballot … up to the point that it’s counted.”

Texas lawmakers’ pay, which sits at $600 a month, is now in jeopardy after Governor Greg Abbott threatened to eliminate pay for “those who abandon their responsibilities.”

Raymond doesn’t think that’s likely.

“If he cuts out funding for the legislative branch, you don’t have staff, you don’t have legislative counsel, you don’t have the legislative board. I mean I don’t know how we would be able to function.”

The bill will resurface at a special session the governor says he will called for.

If passed, this will be considered one of the nation’s strictest voting laws.

There are 150 members in the Texas House of Representatives and 100 are required to be present for a vote.

On Sunday night, there were not enough legislators on the floor.

Governor Abbott says he expects them to, “work out their differences prior to arriving back at the Capitol.”

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