A Texas Senate bill which would limit voting hours and prohibit election officials from soliciting mail-in votes is coming down the legislative pipeline, and opinions at UTA are divided along party lines.
Senate Bill 7 advanced to the House committee on April 6 and seeks to amend election laws. The bill is listed as one of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s priorities for this legislative session. Michael Morris, political science adjunct assistant professor, said the Republican Party sees this bill as a way to fight voter fraud, while the Democratic Party sees it as a way to suppress votes.
The bill might undergo some minor changes, but with Republicans in control of both chambers, Morris said it will most likely become law.
Many people are buying into the narrative that this bill is about racism, but that is not its main intention, he said. It’s more about the struggle for political power. If Democrats were in control of Texas, they would probably file a similar bill, he said.
But having this bill become law would not stop Texas from turning blue, he said. Texas will eventually turn blue as the political pendulum swings in that direction.
People from blue states such as California are moving to Texas, Morris said. And immigrants from Central and South America also tend to lean toward the Democratic Party.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, net migration from California to Texas in 2018 and 2019 was between 45,000 and 50,000 people per year.
Political science sophomore Kevin Ceballos-Moreno said the bill is not necessarily to improve election security. It’s for the losing party to strengthen their political power by restricting voting laws that discourage minorities from voting, he said.
Historically conservative Tarrant County flipped blue in the 2020 presidential election.
Whenever a specific population is targeted by a legislation, it can cause that group to act against that legislation, Ceballos-Moreno said. This bill may end up backfiring by incentivizing the targeted communities to vote.
Another reason for such a bill was the idea that the 2020 presidential election wasn’t secured. But he doesn’t think election security in Texas is a problem because the state already has strict voting rules. If the bill passes, fewer people would be able to vote and that’s undemocratic, he said.
According to nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts, there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
Texas has the most restrictive voting process in the nation and has reduced the number of polling stations in some parts of the state by more than 50% since 2016, according to an analysis by research from Northern Illinois University, Jacksonville University and Wuhan University in China.
Ethan Holland, finance sophomore and chapter chairman for UTA’s Young Conservatives of Texas, said Texas has done a good job at maintaining election integrity compared to other states.
The bill is necessary and will have a positive effect, Holland said. It would keep elections secured as technology advances and voting machines are being used.
Lawmakers nationwide have proposed laws that seek to amend voting laws. Earlier this month, executives from major companies including Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and MLB released a joint statement calling for easier voting access.
On April 2, MLB decided to withdraw the summer’s All-Star game from Atlanta over new Georgia voting laws enacted in March that critics called restrictive. Gov. Greg Abbott decided to boycott any events held by MLB, including the ceremonial first pitch at the Texas Rangers’ home opening game in Globe Life Field.
President Joe Biden recently compared the new election law passed in Georgia to Jim Crow laws. But Morris disagreed.
“This has no comparison to the Jim Crow laws that were passed to restrict and to dehumanize my people,” he said.