AUSTIN, T.X. (KXAN) — On Saturday, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke will testify against two controversial elections overhaul bills — at their first hearings in the Texas House.
The bills stem from the previous Senate Bill 7, which was toppled by a late-night Democratic walk-out. But now, Senate Bill 1 and its House equivalent have resurrected the GOP-led effort to make several changes to how elections are conducted in the state.
“I’m here in Austin, at our state capitol, preparing to testify against an elections bill that would change the rules on how we vote and make it harder for hundreds of thousands of our fellow Texans to participate in our democracy,” O’Rourke said Saturday morning. “The good news is: I’m here with a lot of other people.”
Texas Republicans say the laws would protect election integrity. But others, namely Democrats, have said these laws are aimed at stopping legal voters from casting ballots. The controversial bills would limit early voting hours, ban drive-thru and mail-in ballot drop boxes and require people with disabilities to prove they can’t make it to a voting center.
Additionally, SB 1 would allow partisan poll watchers to record voters who get help filling out ballots — and make it a crime for local elections officials to encourage voting by mail.
O’Rourke and Powered by People held an event at the Capitol in June to show support for the federal voting right “For the People Act,” which has stalled in the U.S. Senate.
O’Rourke urged anyone who wants to protest against the bill to testify in the Texas House and/or Senate on Saturday.
O’Rourke implored Texans: “If you want to make sure that we save democracy and preserve voting rights, and have free and fair elections in Texas, then come down to the state capitol.”