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Texas voter intimidation bill targets elderly, disabled, and most vulnerable

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Texas Republican State Senator Bryan Hughes‘ bill on “election integrity” is a clear attack on voting rights, get out the vote efforts, and preys on the most vulnerable voters. Senate Bill 9 passed the Senate last month, and is a priority for the very powerful Texas Lt. Governor, far right wing ideologue and Trump supporter Dan Patrick, to become law. He claims it “protects our democracy.”

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Here’s just a few of the ways SB 9 harms voters, especially those who need help the most.

SB 9 increases the penalty for making a simple mistake on a voter registration form. If SB 9 becomes law, voters who make a mistake on their voter form could go to jail, civil rights groups say.

Cinde Weatherby of the non-partisan League of Women Voters of Texas says portions of SB 9 are “attacks on our civil liberties.”

Zenén Jaimes Pérez, advocacy director for the Texas Civil Rights Project, told The San Antonio Current, “This legislation magnifies the voter suppression tactics that [Texas politicians] have been pursuing for the last couple of years.”

The bill also makes it harder for an elderly or disabled voter who requires assistance to vote.

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It makes it illegal for, say, a friend to drive 3 or more voters who are “physically unable to enter the polling place without personal assistance” and therefore request a poll worker’s assistance to bring “a ballot to the voter at the polling place entrance or curb,” unless they fill out and sign an affidavit attesting to the voters’ inability to enter the polling location without help.

Who is going to want to sign an affidavit – including their name and address – when they’re just doing a few friends a favor by driving them to the polls?

Here’s how SB 9 mandates that this new process be fulfilled:

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A person who assists at least three voters voting under this section at the same time by providing the voters with transportation to the polling place must complete and sign a form
that:
(1) requires the person to affirm that the voters are
physically unable to enter the polling place without personal
assistance or likelihood of injuring their health; and
(2) contains the following information:
(A) the person’s name and address; and
(B) whether the person is providing assistance to
the voters solely under this section or under both this section and
Subchapter B.
(f) Subsection (e) does not apply to a person if the person
is a family member of all voters that the person provides with
transportation to the polling place. For purposes of this
subsection, “family member” has the meaning assigned by Section
33.057(a).
(g) The secretary of state shall prescribe the form
described by Subsection (e).

In case there’s any question that the intent of the bill is to discourage legal voters from voting, the original text of that portion of the bill applied to just one voter in need of assistance.

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A person who assists a voter voting under this section by providing the voter with transportation to the polling place must complete and sign a form that:
(1) requires the person to affirm that the voter is physically unable to enter the polling place without personal assistance or likelihood of injuring the voter’s health; and
(2) contains the following information:
(A) the person’s name and address; and
(B) whether the person is providing assistance
solely under this section or under both this section and Subchapter
B.
(f) The secretary of state shall prescribe the form
described by Subsection (e).

The Texas House has until May 27 to pass the bill.

Want to know more? The Texas Civil Rights Project has an explainer for SB 9.

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Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated SB 9 would apply to a voter driving any friends to the polls. That section of SB 9 applies only to those needing assistance from poll workers.

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Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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