Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, listed the details of Texas’ S.B. 7 and H.B. 6 voter bills in a Wednesday tweet to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.
The GOP-led bills, the Senate version of which passed last week, extends early voting hours, prohibits voting clerks from sending absentee ballot applications to voters who did not request them and bans drive-thru voting, which was a popular alternative voting method during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in Harris County.
“Hopefully our federal government is paying attention to what is happening in our nation when it comes to voter suppression bills. … These bills are taking away people’s right to vote,” Turner tweeted Wednesday. He also described the bills as “Jim Crow 2.0” in a Tuesday tweet.
Crenshaw responded, saying he “actually read these election reform bills” and that “there’s not a single thing that could be interpreted as ‘voter suppression or ‘Jim Crow 2.0,’ as you cynically stated.”
The Texas Republican and retired Navy SEAL went on to explain that the bills ensure poll watchers are entitled to observe activity during elections, requires voter assistants to provide their information to election officials, implements additional penalties against ballot harvesting, limits early voting times, prohibits election officials from sending absentee ballots from those who did not request them, sets the number of polling places in certain areas to represent the population and so on.
“Does any of that sound like racist voter suppression? No, of course not,” Crenshaw tweeted. “The majority of these reforms simply unwind the ’emergency measures’ implemented during the pandemic.”
He added that “Jim Crow voting restrictions included poll taxes, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses” and that he believes it is “absurd to make these comparisons since absolutely no provision would stop a person from voting.”
Turner’s office said they do not believe the Houston mayor has seen Crenshaw’s tweet when asked for a response.
Texas lawmakers have introduced nearly 50 bills targeting absentee voting, ballot boxes, ID requirements and other measures as of March 24, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law.
Some Democrats have scolded GOP voting-related legislation like S.B. 7, H.B. 6 and Georgia’s H.B. 531 as restrictive, suppressive and akin to laws from the Jim Crow era, enforcing racial segregation because they largely limit immediate absentee ballot access, ballot drop-boxes and polling locations, and they strengthen voter ID requirements.
President Joe Biden described the Georgia bill, which Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law on March 25, as “Jim Crow in the 21st century” and “an attack on the right to vote in Georgia” in a March 26 statement.
Some Democrats also argue that the bills are based on former President Trump’s false narrative that the 2020 presidential election, which saw record absentee voter participation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was “stolen” after President Biden won.
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