By Senator Borris Miles
The Texas Senate advanced Senate Bill 9 along party lines. This bill increases the penalties and criminalizes voters for innocent mistakes, expands the powers of state officials to access voters’ private and personal information and adds new barriers and penalties to volunteers who offer to help voters, whether to transport them to the polls or to assist with voting.
Our community has been the target of voter suppression efforts for decades. The Black community fought for the right to vote with blood, sweat and tears. We as a community honor the men and women who fought on the front lines and we are not going to let a bill like SB 9 turn the clocks back on voting.
The author of the bill indicated that SB 9’s intent was about “election integrity” and to protect the right to vote. We have heard that before and we know the truth. This bill is about Democrats winning last year’s election, taking 13 new seats in the Texas Capitol and 41 new seats in the US House. Instead of finding a way to win back the people’s support, Republicans chose a more despicable method, trying to keep us away from the polls.
Black Democrats are the backbone of the Democratic Party and turn out many voters to the polls during every election. We drive voters to the polls, our churches mobilize voters through Souls to the Polls, we help our elderly and disabled request mail ballots and we knock on doors so that our neighbors are well informed and urge them to get out and vote. Republicans see this progress and hope to dismantle it. Efforts to dismantle Black Get Out the Vote programs are already underway in other states and now they have made their way to Texas. They will use SB 9 as a way to scare, intimidate and penalize good people who are exercising their right to vote and assisting others so that they can do the same.
SB 9 heads to the Texas House where OUR lawmakers are prepared to fight to ensure this bill does not pass.
About the Author
A native of Houston, Senator Borris L. Miles was elected to the Texas Senate in 2016 after serving four terms in the Texas House of Representatives.
Miles is a successful businessman and developer, owning one of the largest insurance agencies in Texas and redeveloping two commercial blocks. He was first elected to the House in 2006 and became a leading progressive voice.