The Austin Chronicle

Bill That Could Put Up Barriers to Voting Passes Texas Senate

By Mary Tuma, April 19, 2019, News

A bill that civil rights groups say will intimidate voters and place barriers in front of the elderly and communities of color passed the Senate this week. Senate Bill 9 by Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Min­e­ola, would increase criminal penalties for anyone who makes an error on a voter registration form, from a class B misdemeanor to a state jail felony. Groups including the Texas Civil Rights Project and MOVE Texas Action Fund caution this would make it easier to punish honest mistakes and widen state officials' power to access voters' private information, including Social Security and driver's license numbers. SB 9 also forces those who assist voters who need help to fill out "burdensome" new forms. "The Texas Senate had an opportunity to use this moment to strengthen our democracy by passing a real election security bill which also protected the right to vote for every eligible Texas citizen, and they failed," said James Slattery, staff attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project. "Instead, politicians in power are primed to make it more difficult for older Texans, communities of color, and those with disabilities to vote – imposing new bureaucratic red tape on those who drive those folks to polling locations or help them into the building. That's not election security, that's gaming the system for their own benefit."...

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