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SB1: Silencing the Minority Vote

By Jo-Carolyn Goode

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    September 10, 2021 (Houston Style Magazine) — How do you give an answer to a problem that never existed? Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 1 – the election integrity bill – into law on September 7th on the basis that the legislation now makes it easier to vote and harder to cheat.

In order to claim cheating in an election, doesn’t there need to be some form of evidence showing proof of the crime? Many have searched and investigated but have found no such evidence. Claims of election fraud initially blared from the mouth of the businessman turned politician, Donald Trump, along with his tribe of allies. They took the claim and ran with it by backing him up – even with no solid proof available. The passage of SB1 in Texas is the result of that false claim.

Texas is known throughout the country as a state that doesn’t play when it comes to politics. Having some of the strictest voting rights laws in the nation, Texas would be a state that could recognize election fraud if it existed. The problem in Texas was never election fraud but instead, election turnout – especially amongst the Black and Brown communities. In Harris County, interim Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins examined that problem and churned out innovative ideas that resulted in record-breaking election turnout numbers.

Under Hollins’ tenure, he increased ‘Souls at the Polls’ by making it easier for everyone to vote by thinking about the working class and their circumstances. Many don’t work the traditional 9-5 schedule so 24-hour voting locations were ideal for them. In addition, transportation is not readily available for some, therfore, more polling locations closer neighborhoods with extended hours was established to meet those needs. Also, many were simply afraid to vote because of the pandemic. Drive-thru voting became a safer and more efficient way for many to cast their vote. Lastly, ballot drop boxes and mail-in ballot application delivery to those 65 and up reached those that might have been overlooked. For the first time, the residents of Harris County had voting options tailored to fit their needs while making them feel safe and secure. The initial goal of Hollins was reached and Harris County had the smoothest election ever.

Unfortunately, whenever something works for the disenfranchised that was orchestrated by Democrats, the Republicans look to poke dismantle it. The passage of SB1 is what is being used to create a deterrence in a system that had finally starting to see some positive results.

“S.B. 1, as promoted, endorsed, and signed into law by the Governor of Texas, limits voter accessibility by assigning criminality to individuals who violate state laws designed to create challenging barriers to individuals seeking to vote. The law maliciously targets seniors, young people, language and religious minorities, in addition to other historically marginalized groups. This law is predicated off of a history of insidious practices common and rife throughout the Jim Crow Era which facilitated the conditions surrounding the necessity of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.” Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee continued, “We must continue to safeguard our most cherished right and the bedrock of our democracy, the right to vote.”

SB1 does the following: -BANS 24-hour voting -BANS drive-thru voting -LIMITS early voting hours -BARS the sending of unsolicited ballot applications to registered voters -ENFORCES new voter ID requirements for mail-in ballots -INCREASES poll watchers access -INSTITUTES new voter assistance rules for those with special needs -HELPS voters to make corrections on mail-in ballots and applications -REQUIRES the Secretary of State to carry out monthly citizenship checks of voter rolls

Most of the modern day voting procedures used in the Harris County 2020 elections are now null and void. . Why would one put some many restrictions on something that produced such a positive voter outcome? Is that really showing that EVERY voice matters? The Democrats, impart, are saying it is voter suppression and, specifically, pushes the minority vote agenda back instead of moving it forward. This is especially troublesome when the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act was just passed this August.

“SB8 says no to both 24-hour and drive-thru voting, but neither was creating a hardship for the people in the state of Texas. There is no reason to ban them,” Congressman Al Green said. “I have many constituents who benefit from drive-thru voting and 24-hour voting. Many of them do not have a 9-5 job. They work at all hours or have multiple jobs, are getting home late, and would still like to vote,” said Congressman Al Green to Houston Style. “This is why I voted in favor of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. We must do what is necessary to pass righteous laws at the federal level to keep states accountable, have free and fair elections, and allow people to participate equally and fairly in the political process.”

Where do we go from here? Legislators against SB1 mist return to the state capital, Senate, and House floor. In the words of Congresswoman Lee, “The Texas Governor’s decision to pass this anti-democratic voter suppression law which is an affront to Voting Rights, must be repealed immediately.”

The job of the people is to vote and take someone who is eligible to vote with you. No more excuses. Channel the spirits of the ancestors by having a “come hell or high water” attitude to get to the polls to vote. Your voice is important. If those two th there would not be so many trying to stop you and silence you. It is time to vote out the people who don’t represent your beliefs and ideas. It is time to vote out the people who don’t have your better interest at heart but instead are focus solely on their personal agenda. Vote in the people who are forward thinkers, who want what you want and will stand up for causes that matter to you. Remember if you don’t vote that is not just keeping silent. That is a check in the win column for the other team. Consider it as an easy way to cheat the system that is hard to vote in. Don’t waste your vote, use it.

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Jo-Carolyn Goode

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