HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner invited a diverse group of elected officials, community leaders, and business executives to stand in solidarity against voter suppression bills in the Texas Legislature.
More than 50 individuals and organizations have vowed to fight Senate Bill 7 and House Bill 6, which would make voting more difficult and less accessible to people of color and people with disabilities.
“The right to vote is sacred. In the 1800’s and 1900’s in this country, women, and people of color had to fight to obtain that right to vote,” Mayor Turner said. “In 2021, we find ourselves again fighting bills filed in legislatures across this country that would restrict and suppress the right of people to vote. These bills are Jim Crow 2.0.”
In addition to elected and appointed officials from Harris and Fort Bend Counties, prominent attorneys, Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith-based leaders joined the mayor Monday afternoon.
Representatives from the following organizations were also present:
NAACP, Houston Area Urban League, Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Houston Asian Chamber of Commerce, League of Women Voters Houston, Houston in Action, FIEL, ACLU, Communications Workers of American, IAPAC, Mi Familia Vota, Houston Black Chamber of Commerce, Southwest Pipe Trades Association, National Federation for the Blind of Texas, Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Employment & Training Centers, Inc. and others.
- The controversial voter suppression bills would limit external early voting hours
- Prohibit drive-thru voting
- Make it illegal for local election officials to pro-actively send applications to vote by mail to voters, even if they qualify
- Ban anyone, except the voter who filled out a ballot from dropping it in a mailbox or delivering it to an election official
- Add new paperwork requirements for voters who need help because of language problems or disabilities
- Restrict the number of voting machines available at countywide polling places and take power over election administrators away from local officials
- Create civil penalties for election officials, who violate its provisions like loss of employment and employment benefits
- Broaden poll watchers’ access at polling places, which could lead to voter intimidation of non-English speaking persons or people with intellectual disabilities.
- Provide a new formula for locating polling places and a ban on drop boxes
Mayor Turner said he agreed with 72 national Black corporate executives who recently wrote that corporate America should publicly oppose any discriminatory legislation and all measures designed to limit Americans’ ability to vote. When it comes to protecting the rights of all Americas to vote, there can be no middle ground.
“Our friends and business leaders cannot be silent out of fear of intimidation by the perpetrators of voter suppression,” said Mayor Turner.
City of Houston