Yesterday, Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick delivered a jaw-dropping litany of lies that makes even Donald Trump’s screeds pale in comparison. From beginning to end, Patrick made false claims about what his voter suppression legislation does and does not do.
Patrick, Greg Abbott, and Republican legislative leaders are not engaged in a factual debate over election reform. They are pushing voter suppression and overtly lying about the content and the effect of their bills.
It is always difficult for media to deal with politicians like Patrick who blatantly lie but do so with dramatic conviction. Too often, like Donald Trump early during his awful run, Patrick is not called out immediately, or sometimes ever, for his obvious lies. Instead, clearly false statements are played as counter viewpoints or legitimate back-and-forth with Democrats. This morning, though, two posts tagged Patrick for the Big Lie he is selling:
- “Patrick also claimed that the criticism of the bill was unwarranted because it changed nothing about any aspect of the voting process in Texas… If that’s the case, why is anyone objecting to SB 7? The reason is that Patrick was lying.” Popular Information, April 7, 2021
- “Notably, Patrick also claimed the new measures are needed because “a large percentage of Americans do not believe” in the 2020 “outcome.” This widespread GOP line — limiting voting is needed to restore voter “confidence” — comes after Republicans themselves stoked this situation by propping up Donald Trump’s lie for weeks.” Washington Post, April 7, 2021
Make no mistake, the facts say that SB7 – Patrick’s racially discriminatory voter suppression bill – mandates major changes in Texas election law that make voting harder while stripping authority away from local officials and shifting it to state leaders who have a damning history of engaging in intentional discrimination.
Here is a straight-up description of the major provisions in the Abbott/Patrick/Texas GOP voter suppression bill. We gladly challenge Dan Patrick or any of the backers of SB7 or the House companion HB6 to factually counter our conclusions.
- Limiting and Discouraging Early Voting – The measures prohibit expanded early voting hours past 9-hour blocks and only within the hours of 6am and 9pm. This is directly aimed at those counties like Harris who successfully expanded access to voters and disproportionately affects minorities, working families, single moms, and those who live in rural counties far from polling places. The state has absolutely no pressing interest to mandate voting between these times except for the explicit purpose of reducing voter participation.
- Bans Mobile Voting Locations – Voting using moveable structures such as a tent would be banned. This effectively ends drive-thru voting, which is one way Harris County adapted to accommodate their nearly 5 million residents. No improper actions were connected to mobile or drive-thru voting, and no compelling state interest is served by banning the ability of voters to show their ID and vote from their vehicle.
- Disadvantages Minority Neighborhoods – A formula is created to determine the number of polling places, voting machines, and election workers based on gerrymandered state house districts and eligible voters within each county. This disadvantages minority communities that have been packed into one district and have a smaller number of eligible voters due to age and citizenship status.
- Voter Intimidation – The bills allow poll watchers (often partisan), but no one else, to video and audio record actions at the polling place and allows them to move throughout polling locations with less restriction. This creates an atmosphere of intimidation for election administrators, voters, and workers.
- Poll Watchers Empowered – Poll watchers, who are often partisan, are given more leeway to disrupt in the polling place. They no longer must keep a respectable distance from voters, and they can only be removed if they commit an offense related to election fraud. This opens the door for voter intimidation and harassment and forces the election workers who, again, are volunteers, to act as police.
- Simple Assistance to Voters Made Harder – Assisting voters who need help is made harder. Assistants would have to fill out an affidavit with their name, address, relationship to the voter, and reason for assistance.
- Prohibits Making Voting by Mail Easier and More Efficient – The bills prohibit counties and other agencies of the state from proactively sending out mail-ballot applications. This is a critical tool for voter education, and the state has no legitimate interest in preventing counties from engaging in this practice other than to reduce the number of voters- specifically in urban areas like Harris county where the effort resulted in record voter turnout.