AUSTIN, TEXAS-- “For democracy to work, it must include all voices. SB 1 is an extremist anti-voter bill that raises even more barriers to voting and specifically targets vulnerable communities, especially voters with disabilities, voters of color, and elderly voters,” said Grace Chimene, president of the League of Women Voters of Texas.
During the last election cycle, Texans all over the state benefited from more voting opportunities, such as expansion of early voting, extended hours at the polling places, and more options to return vote-by-mail ballots. Texans want measures that that make elections safe and accessible. With the enactment of SB 1, these measures are now prohibited. SB 1 adds to the already overwhelming and complicated Texas election laws by using broad and confusing language, creating barriers to voting, and adding criminal offenses.
The League of Women Voters of Texas and other nonpartisan organizations are particularly concerned that:
SB 1 threatens election officials with criminal prosecution for enacting procedures to meet local community needs to increase voter participation;
It threatens advocacy groups and individuals with felony prosecution for providing needed assistance to voters at polling locations and with mail ballots;
It limits the ability of election judges to remove disruptive or intimidating partisan poll watchers;
SB 1 allows partisan poll watchers to take election officials to court over perceived obstruction.
In addition, there are several other measures in the bill that will make voting more confusing and thus harder for voters. For instance, voters who use a vote by mail ballot are now required to include the ID number contained in their original registration records when applying for or returning mail ballots. This legislation also specifically bans the ballot drop boxes and drive-through voting that were so popular and efficient during the 2020 election.
Other measure work against our hard-working elections officials such as requiring new procedures for purging lists of registered voters, and threatening local officials with loss of employment and civil penalties for failing to maintain voter lists to the satisfaction of the Secretary of State. The law also requires audits which will add to the cost of elections for local governments. While this measure disproportionately targets our more populous counties, it will be a significant burden on smaller, less populous counties.
“SB 1 is a violation of our freedom to vote, and the League will continue to fight every attempt to silence Texas voters,” said Chimene.