May 8

By Patrick Strickland

On Saturday, protesters and rights groups plan to gather at the steps of the Texas Capitol and rally against a controversial voting bill the state House passed on Friday morning.

Organized by rights groups and advocacy organizations, the protest will include locals, activists, voting advocacy groups, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro and former U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke.

According to a press release put out by the ACLU of Texas, another rally for voting rights will be held in Houston on Saturday morning.

The groups involved in the rally include MOVE Texas, Texas Rising, the Texas Civil Rights Project and Common Cause Texas, the news release said.

The rally is aimed to speak out against “the Texas Legislature’s egregious attempts at voter suppression that target Black and Brown people, people with disabilities and naturalized U.S. citizens,” according to the ACLU of Texas.

Backed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the bill seeks to restrict voting and is one of several so-called “election integrity” bills introduced by Republican state lawmakers this year.

Abbott has claimed that the integrity of elections in Texas is in peril, but rights groups say the bills amount to voter suppression and would most harm voters of color and those with disabilities.

Controversial bills this session include SB 7 and HB 6. If it becomes law, SB 7 will restrict how and when voters can cast their ballots, bar drive-thru voting and forbid election administrators from distributing mail-in voting applications, among other provisions.

HB 6 would restrict election administrators in how much they can do to prevent “illegal disruptions,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice. The bill would also empower election watchers to film or photograph voters they claim are engaged in some sort of fraud, a provision that rights groups say amounts to voter intimidation.

In recent weeks, dozens of companies have condemned attempts to restrict voting in Texas and Georgia, where similar proposals were recently signed into law.

This week, companies including Patagonia, Hewlett-Packard and Etsy, among others, called on lawmakers in Texas to expand voting access rather than restrict it.

“We believe that Texas elections should be convenient, transparent, and secure,” the companies and chambers of commerce wrote in an open letter.

“We stand together, as a nonpartisan coalition, calling on all elected leaders in Texas to support reforms that make democracy more accessible and oppose any changes that would restrict eligible voters’ access to the ballot,” the letter added.

On Friday, Gov. Abbott tweeted in support of the bill passed on Friday morning. “This bill will help ensure that we have trust & confidence in the outcome of our elections,” he wrote.