Following a marathon debate Thursday night inside the Texas House of Representatives last week, which included the passage of Senate Bill 7, State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, called it a “huge victory” for Republicans.
King said he co-authored the bill to address concerns over the security and validity of the 2020 election.
“I can confidently say this bill will go a long way in increasing transparency in our voting process and ensuring that voters can have confidence when casting their ballot,” he said in a statement via his newsletter. “Voting is our greatest privilege and most powerful tool we have. It is fundamental to healthy democracy. SB 7 is for all Texans. It creates consistency, produces reliability, and restores trust.”
State Rep. Glenn Rogers, R-Graford, said election integrity is very important, adding that Texas voters deserve to have “free, fair and secure elections.”
“As a fighting Texas Aggie, I don’t lie, cheat, steal or tolerate those that do,” Rogers said. “It should be easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
The version approved Friday leaves out various far-reaching voting restrictions that had prompted outcry from voting rights advocates, advocates for people with disabilities and local officials in some of the state’s biggest counties. The legislation still contains some provisions by those groups, including a prohibition on counties sending unsolicited applications to vote by mail.
King highlighted some of the key provisions of the new version of the bill, which include the prohibition of public officials from unauthorized altering or waiving of an election procedure or practice; ensuring voter registration is legitimate and accurate by requiring a list of deceased voters to be sent to the appropriate authority within seven days of being created; requirement of elections to be conducted in a consistent manner throughout the entire state; allows poll watchers to properly observe the activity of procedure for which they have jurisdiction and verifies poll watchers do not disrupt the delivery of marked ballots; an update to the oath of assistance to protect voters who are unable to write or see due to a physical disability from being improperly swayed by an election assistant, and provides that falsifying the oath of assistance amounts to perjury; additional protection to voting by mail by adding a section for voting assistants to attest that they do not receive compensation in return for assisting a voter with their ballot; prevention of election fraud by prohibiting voting in more than one state, the alteration of a ballot, and vote trafficking; prohibiting local governments from spending tax dollars to solicit or distribute applications to vote by mail; prioritizing cases involving election integrity and ensuring fraud cases are free from potential judicial bias by randomly assigning the cases to a court; and prohibiting poll watchers from harassing voters and preventing poll watchers from being removed without cause.
“Our main objective is to secure our elections while having a more uniform election statewide,” Rogers said. “As a state, we need to continue to preserve the rights of all Texans, especially their right to vote.”
Following a 78-64 vote, SB 7 now heads back to the Senate and will convene a conference committee for both chambers to resolve any differences, King said.