SB 1: Black vote under attack again

By: Roy Douglas Malonson

Here we go again, the Republicans are scheming to find more ways to attack the Black vote and they are using the “law” to hide behind.

The election reform bill that sent Democratic lawmakers leaving their states and heading to Washington in an effort to stop it has been passed on to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s desk after the state House and Senate gave approval on Tuesday. We all know that Abbott is a Donald Trump fan and is hell bent on stopping any minority – or Democrat – from seeing any forward movement. Abbott and his antics are trying to take us back to the Jim Crow days, and Senate Bill 1 is just one way of doing it.

It is clear, Republicans are still angry that the Black and Brown votes were powerhouses in last year’s historic election, helping to “undo” the mess this country made by allowing Trump to become president. People just automatically assumed that Hillary Clinton would gain the presidency that they did not vote as they should, and we see the outcome from that disaster.  After four long years of Trump, people dismissed fears of the COVID pandemic and did what was needed to be done to keep Trump from getting a second term.

Now, in retaliation, Republicans in fear of losing their positions are trying to undermine the system and create obstacles for the people who became “gae changers” in the face of adversity.

SB 1 is expected to do several things, including ban 24-hour voting, drive-through voting, unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots and will change protections for poll workers, among other things.

Abbott says the bill will “solidify trust and confidence in the outcome of our elections by making it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

Here’s a quick snapshot breaking down of the bill, as outlined in the Texas Tribune:

Ban drive-thru voting

During the 2020 elections, voters were allowed to cast ballots from their cars. That will no longer be allowed.

Harris County was first to test this method during a summer 2020 primary runoff election with little controversy, but the county faced heavy Republican scrutiny and backlash after this method was used for the November general election.

New regulations for early voting hours, including a ban on 24-hour voting

Early voting hours will now be from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., outlawing the 24 hours of uninterrupted voting Harris County offered at a few polling places for one day during the 2020 election.

The legislation also requires more counties to provide at least 12 hours of early voting each weekday of the second week of early voting in state elections. That’s currently required of counties with a population of 100,000 or more. SB 1 will lower that population threshold to 55,000, expanding hours in smaller, mostly Republican counties. The bill also adds an extra hour of required early voting hours for local elections, moving it from eight hours to nine.

Ban distribution of mail-in ballot applications

SB 1 will make it a state jail felony for local election officials to send unsolicited applications to request a mail-in ballot. That same punishment applies to officials who approve the use of public funds “to facilitate” the unsolicited distribution of applications by third parties, which would keep counties from providing applications to local groups helping get out the vote.

New ID requirements for voting by mail

Under SB 1’s new ID requirements, voters must provide their driver’s license number or, if they don’t have one, the last four digits of their Social Security number on applications for those ballots. They must also provide those numbers on the envelope used to return their completed ballot.

A correction process for mail-in voting

SB 1 creates a new process allowing voters to correct their mail-in ballots if they are at risk of being rejected for a technical error. Voters could make those corrections online through a new online ballot tracker that was previously approved by the Legislature. The legislation will also allow voters who make errors on the mail-in ballot application itself to make corrections.

Poll watcher protections

SB 1 would also make it a criminal offense to obstruct the view or distance the poll watcher “in a manner that would make observation not reasonably effective.”  Currently, poll watchers are entitled to sit or stand “conveniently near” election workers, and it is a criminal offense to prevent them from observing.

SB 1 also requires training for poll watchers and allows them to be removed from a polling place without warning if they violate the state Penal Code. A previous version of the bill only allowed them to be kicked out for violating the law or the election code after receiving one warning.

Establish monthly citizenship checks

The bill will require the Texas secretary of state’s office to compare the massive statewide voter registration list with data from the Department of Public Safety to pinpoint individuals who told the department they were not citizens while obtaining or renewing their driver’s license or ID card after registering to vote.

Creating new rules for voter assistance

The bill would establish new requirements — and possible criminal penalties — for those who assist voters who need help filling out their ballots, including voters with disabilities. The person assisting must fill out new paperwork disclosing their relationship to the voter. Assistants must also recite an expanded oath, now under the penalty of perjury, stating they did not “pressure or coerce” the voter into choosing them for assistance.

Republicans feel they are creating a “playbook,” that doesn’t mean we will allow ourselves to get “played.” Stay woke, educate yourself, keep fighting and – above all – KEEP VOTING!

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