The Texas College Democrats are deeply relieved by the apparent death of SB7, a dangerous voter suppression bill that would have made it harder for millions of people to vote across the state of Texas. While an organized Democratic front — pushed by grassroots organizations from across the state — ultimately prevented SB7 from passing in the regular session, it is crucial that we remain vigilant in our efforts to fight this legislation as the special session approaches.
Upon reviewing SB7, it is clear that the intent of this bill is not to ‘secure our elections’, but rather to make voting more difficult, particularly in communities of color. Not only would this bill make it nearly impossible to remove partisan pollwatchers, even ones who intimidate voters and threaten ballot secrecy, it would also initiate blanket bans on Sunday morning voting. This seems to be a direct attack on Souls to the Polls initiatives, which have historically been instrumental in increasing Black turnout.
SB7 would also blatantly attack voting access in Democratic strongholds, as additional restrictions would make voting more difficult and time consuming in counties with populations of over one million - an arbitrary measure that would target denser, more Democratic-leaning communities. The bill would also undo initiatives put into place by counties that have made it easier for people to vote, such as polling locations being open throughout the night, drive-in voting, and investment in centralized polling locations. These measures are being targeted not because they are unsafe — for example, not a single case of voter fraud has been documented at late-hours voting locations — but because Republicans know that an engaged electorate hurts their chances at winning elections.
Furthermore, SB7 would decrease public trust in elections by making overturning election results a much easier process. Under SB7, plaintiffs would no longer be required to prove that fraud occurred during an election to overturn that election’s results. This is part of a consistent pattern to cast Democratic victories as illegitimate and would send Texas elections into chaos.
SB7 is a disaster for democracy, but it also has severe negative implications for the Texas business community. As seen in states from North Carolina to Georgia, bills as discriminatory as SB7 generate terrible press for the state, impairing economic growth, disincentivizing the influx of business so fundamental to our state’s future, and pushing national and multinational corporations to pull back from Texas — resulting in fewer well-paying jobs for Texans.
Greg Abbott has stated his intention to call a special session- devoted not to rectifying the holes in winter preparation, created over the course of decades from Republican neglect, that killed 200 Texans just months ago; not to dealing with the pandemic and parallel recession that hit Texas so hard; but to attempt the resuscitation of this anti-democratic bill. The TX GOP has spent years demonstrating that it has few priorities beyond the maintenance of its own power, and little interest in the welfare of Texans. The designated purpose of the upcoming special session is an especially clear proof of that.
Voters all across the state should be rejoicing at the fact that this bill was not given an opportunity to become law during the regular legislative session. However, the fight is far from over. As the special session approaches, we will be working vigilantly to ensure that this bill remains dead -- the stakes are simply too high to do otherwise.
Director of Political Affairs