87th LegislatureElections 2020IssuesState HouseState SenateTexas House Democrats Ask Biden Admin to Monitor Elections Committee’s ‘Voter Disenfranchisement’ Bills

The Democrats on the committee accused Chairman Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) and others of “silencing opposing viewpoints.”
April 29, 2021
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Vice-Chair Jessica Gonzalez (D-Dallas) of the Texas House Elections Committee, along with committee members Art Fierro (D-El Paso), John Bucy III (D-Austin), and Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton), authored a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday and asked that “if it is deemed appropriate, that the Civil Rights Division monitor the proceedings of the House Elections Committee and the Texas House for the remainder of session.” 

The request follows an attempt by Chairman Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) earlier in the day to fast track through the committee Senate Bill (SB) 7 — an election security bill that the Texas Senate passed by a party-line vote of 18 to 13 this month.

The letter blasted Cain’s attempt to have the committee vote on a committee substitute for SB 7 without having any witnesses appear before the committee or “without any opportunity to discern the language being presented to our committee.” The current version of SB 7 has been available for weeks, since the Texas Senate passed it on April 1, and the Texas House Elections Committee heard extensive testimony on a similar bill the committee has already passed, House Bill (HB) 6. Cain indicated that the committee substitute was identical to HB 6.

In addition to the complaints about SB 7, the letter accused Republicans of attempting to “disenfranchise people of color” by passing the bills, which would strengthen protections for poll watchers, upgrade criminal penalties for certain acts of election fraud, and prohibit paid vote harvesting and the distribution of unsolicited mail ballot applications, among other reforms.

“The way we have been treated is emblematic of the majority’s view on minority participation in our democracy. The viewpoints of minorities are an unimportant nuisance that is an obstacle to their continued control of Texas,” the Democrats on the committee wrote. “Many times, almost too many to count, the Democratic women members of this committee have been belittled, talked over, and disrespected.”

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The letter closed by requesting that Garland “review the facts” and get the U.S. Department of Justice involved if he believes it to be necessary. 

According to the election fraud section of the Texas Attorney General’s Special Prosecution Division, the number of active election fraud prosecutions is at an “all time high,” as the attorney general has alleged 510 criminal offenses against 43 defendants.

The full letter can be found on Twitter at this link.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.