AUSTIN (Nexstar) – It was a good week for conservatives at the Texas legislature.
The Texas Senate passed a slate of bills to increase restrictions on abortion. Senators also advanced SB 7, which includes tighter restrictions on voting opposed by Democrats. A bill to limit the power of social media companies to police political content also cleared the Senate.
Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) is the lead author of those bills. He spoke about the election legislation during an interview for the State of Texas politics program.
“Senate Bill 7 will make it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” Hughes said. “It’s about making sure the voter rolls are accurate, the election process, mail ballots, in person, and also the tabulation and the reporting at every step. It tries to make the process better.”
One provision that has drawn concern from Democrats would limit the location of polling places and voting machines. Hughes said the bill would require large counties with 1 million or more residents to distribute polling locations based on eligible voters, not voter turnout.
“Some of our larger counties, in recent election cycles have used their partisan power to put more polling places where their party’s voters are, and fewer polling places where the opposition party has their voters,” Hughes said.
Bills like SB 7 have raised concern about the potential impact on Black voters. Some Democrats have described the measures as “the new Jim Crow,” saying the bills amount to voter suppression.
“It’s unfortunate when in Texas we’re having a policy discussion, folks want to inject national political stuff,” Hughes said. “And these groups send out emails to raise money and to get people riled up. Really that whole discussion, it just seeks to divide us.”
Some Republican voters have voiced concerns about voter fraud, claims met with skepticism by Democrats. Hughes described SB 7 as a bill aimed at election integrity.
“If people lose faith in that process, they’re less likely to vote and we all lose,” Hughes said.
“We want to make sure that every eligible voter is able to vote, and that their vote’s counted accurately, and that they know it’s counted accurately.”