Georgia is not the only state working on legislation to improve election integrity. Texas made a step in the right direction on Thursday when the state Senate approved legislation that would ban mail-in drop boxes and most drive-thru voting. The bill, SB7, was passed on a party-line vote. The criticism of the bill is along party lines, too. The Texas State Senate approved the legislation on April 1, a measure that Republicans say “ensures election integrity,” while Democrats say it’s voter suppression and makes it harder for people with disabilities and ethnic minorities to vote. SB7 passed on a vote of 18-13. It now goes to the Texas House of Representatives. Committee hearings are scheduled for April 6. There were seven hours of debate in the Senate. The bill also limits early voting hours and makes it illegal for local election officials to proactively send applications to vote by mail to voters, even if they qualify.
Texas Republican lawmakers are doing much of what Georgia lawmakers did – making reforms based on actions taken during the pandemic. For example, instating drive-thru voting and drop boxes were not normal voting options until the coronavirus pandemic caused voters to be concerned about going to a polling place in person, possibly risking exposure to the virus. Democrats pushed the envelope as much as possible and used the excuse that voters shouldn’t have to die to exercise their right to vote. In Harris County, for example, the rookie Democrat county clerk tried to mail out ballots to all registered voters in the county, regardless of if they requested one. His reasoning was that a fear of in-person voting would be reason enough to allow mail-in voting for everyone. Well, that’s never been done in Texas and through legal challenges, he was stopped from taking the election into his own hands.
American Airlines, headquartered in Fort Worth, quickly released a statement Thursday afternoon saying that it opposes the legislation “and others like it.” Hey, they can’t let Delta Airlines out-woke them, now can they?
Earlier this morning, the Texas State Senate passed legislation with provisions that limit voting access. To make American’s stance clear: We are strongly opposed to this bill and others like it. As a Texas-based business, we must stand up for the rights of our team members and customers who call Texas home, and honor the sacrifices made by generations of Americans to protect and expand the right to vote.
Voting is the hallmark of our democracy, and is the foundation of our great country. We value the democratic process and believe every eligible American should be allowed to exercise their right to vote, no matter which political party or candidate they support.
We acknowledge how difficult this is for many who have fought to secure and exercise their constitutional right to vote. Any legislation dealing with how elections are conducted must ensure ballot integrity and security while making it easier to vote, not harder. At American, we believe we should break down barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion in our society – not create them.
Why airlines want to get involved in slinging mud over state legislation is beyond me. Voting laws have nothing to do with their operations. This is simply virtue-signaling to appease leftist activists who race-bait and divide us for profit. The Texas bill does not suppress the votes of anyone. Many of the same Republicans who voted for the bill are the same who have been in office for past voting legislation. Democrats turned out in record numbers in 2018 and 2020, despite what the perpetually perturbed protesters would have you believe.
While presenting the bill to the Senate, Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes said the legislation “standardizes and clarifies” voting rules so that “every Texan has a fair and equal opportunity to vote, regardless of where they live in the state.”
“Overall, this bill is designed to address areas throughout the process where bad actors can take advantage, so Texans can feel confident that their elections are fair, honest and open,” Hughes said.
The article I read in the Houston Chronicle was standard liberal hyperbole about the bad Republicans trying to suppress Democrat voters. The newspaper regularly carries water for Texas Democrats. The Democrat state senator they chose to quote about SB7 is not one who should be virtue-signaling anyone. He’s easily googled and written up at Ballotpedia.
But Hughes was met by fierce opposition from Senate Democrats who took turns arguing the legislation would make wholesale changes to address isolated — and rare — incidents of fraud at the expense of voting initiatives that were particularly successful in reaching voters of color.
“As I see this bill, it’s a pure case of suppression. There are some things in here that are really offensive,” said state Sen. Borris Miles, D-Houston. “This hurts to the core.”
Southwest Airlines took a more measured approach.
American’s crosstown rival, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co., weighed in with a statement saying “every voter should have a fair opportunity to let their voice be heard.” Southwest didn’t take a stance on the Texas voting bill.
Republicans are not suppressing votes here. There is no need to continue with provisions allowed solely because of the pandemic. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released a statement.
“Maintaining the integrity of our elections is vital to preserving public trust so our democracy can flourish, and that’s why I have made election security a top priority again this legislative session,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a statement. “SB 7 will strengthen the public’s faith in our electoral process and ensure that every Texan knows that when they cast their ballot, their vote is secure.”
The bill limits early voting hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., ending the extended hours offered in 2020 in certain counties where voting ran until 10 p.m. Early voting is not eliminated. During the pandemic, the number of days before the 2020 election for early voting increased due to the pandemic. That likely will not be permanent, but the point is, if needed, it can again be done. Non-pandemic early voting periods are normally for 10 days prior to election day. This allows people to vote on a weekend if they are unable to do so during weekdays. Twelve-hour days for early voting are standard.
One item in the bill requires “the secretary of state to set up an online portal for voting clerks so that voters can track the status of their ballot application. A user would have to provide identification, either a driver’s license number, a personal identification card number, or a social security number, to gain access.” That was done in Harris County, where I vote, during the pandemic due to anticipation of an increase in applications. It is a feature worth keeping. I used a mail-in ballot and was able to track the whole process, from requesting a ballot to the date the county clerk’s office received my completed ballot. I’d support that on a statewide basis.