House hearing on HB 3 is on Saturday, July 10 at 8 AM
Senate hearing on SB 1 and SB 31 is on Saturday, July 10 at 11 AM

ISSUE

Welcome to the Texas Legislature’s #SuppressionSession where state leadership is once more slashing voter rights–out of public view, with lightning speed, little notice, and new rules for elections bills. They’ve even restructured the House of Representatives for this session!

We’re not whining, “It’s not fair!” We’re vowing to stand up; to testify for the rights of working people and families, especially people of color, the disabled, the elderly. We’re testifying that election law should give fair registration and voting opportunities to all citizens in Texas. We’re saying, “Hell No! You’re not taking my rights away!”

Silence is consent. Break the silence on Saturday, July 10.

Two big, bad election bills dominated the regular session of the Legislature. Those bills would have severely restricted voter rights, limited the fair conduct of elections, criminalized mistakes by voters and local election officials, and empowered untrained, partisan poll watchers. That session ended May 31 without either of those bills passing because legislators opposed to the bills walked out, depriving the House of a quorum at the last moment. The voter suppression effort failed.

Immediately, the governor called a special session to continue the assault on voter rights. That session started July 8. The big bad bills are back, now named House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1 (plus SB 31.) No one except the voter suppression ring leaders could read the bills until late July 7 for HB 3 and July 8 for SB 1/31.

Public hearings on all three bills will be held Saturday July 10, starting at 8 AM in the House and 11 AM in the Senate. Although the walkout pressured bill sponsors to remove a few of the bad clauses, they still disenfranchise many voters and steal power from counties to conduct elections that best serve local needs.

BACKGROUND

As introduced on July 8, 2021, House Bill 3 and Senate Bill 1:

  • Threaten election officials with criminal prosecution for enacting procedures to meet local community needs and increase voter freedom
  • Threaten advocacy groups and individuals with felony prosecution for providing needed assistance to voters at polling locations and with mail ballots
  • Limit the ability of election judges to remove disruptive or intimidating partisan poll watchers
  • Allow partisan poll watchers to take election officials to court over perceived obstruction
  • Require voters using mail ballots to include the ID number identical to the one they provided with their registration application when applying for or returning mail ballots
  • Strictly limit the type of assistance a person — even a family member — may provide a voter when casting their ballot
  • Ban outdoor and drive-through voting locations and mail ballot drop boxes, even in cases of a local emergency; andProvide voters an opportunity to cure certain minor errors on mail ballots

(Analysis courtesy of the Voting Rights Lab)

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD

Every resident of Texas who believes in democratic, fair and safe elections and is fed up with civil rights erosion can and should make noise about this! If you can get to Austin to testify in person, that’s the best! If you can’t, you can still submit online testimony in the House (though not the Senate) before the hearing adjourns Saturday.

If you CAN be in Austin…

The House hearing will be on Saturday, July 10, at 8:00 AM. On the agenda are HB 2 and HJR 1 about bail reform, and HB 3, the voter suppression bill.

First, register ASAP to testify in the House on HB 3. All you need to know about in-person testimony registration is HERE. (You can also just register whether you’re for or against the bill at a kiosk–those little computers on stands in the hallway.)

If you need help finding rooms, figuring out how to register, help with writing your testimony, getting something printed, find a person wearing a bright yellow “Wayfinder” tag. They will help.

You can also make 20 copies of your statement and give them to the committee clerk.

The Senate Hearing will be on Saturday, July 10, at 11 AM. On the agenda are SB 1 and SB 31.

The senate allows only in-person testimony and the time limit is 2 minutes. You can also make 20 copies of your statement and give them to the committee clerk.

What to say

In-person and written testimony is telling your story about why the committee should vote for or against the bill. You wouldn’t invest time, effort, and a little stress without a compelling reason. Good testimony involves relating truthful information about a bill to how it affects your story. In the House, you have three minutes to tell it orally. In the Senate, you have two minutes.

We recommend you write out what you want to say. (Remember it’s a sworn document, so don’t stretch the truth.) Practice speaking it out loud in front of the mirror. Time how long it takes to speak it to be sure you’re within the time limit.

Here’s a sample of what you could say (or write):

“Hello, my name is XXXXXXXX and my zip code is XXXXX I am representing myself (or Organization XXX). I oppose voter suppression bill {HB 3/SB 1} and ask that you vote against it. HB 3 requires trained and sworn election workers to allow untrained and partisan poll watchers to be close enough to workers and voters to see and hear everything that goes on in the polling place except the voters’ actually marking the ballot. There is no limit set as to how many poll watchers must be allowed in. Every candidate and party on the ballot has the right to appoint poll watchers. Untrained and partisan poll watchers would be allowed to stop the voting process if they disagree with the election judge on a complaint. That is a recipe for confusion, delay, and disarray at voting locations.

“I was an election technical clerk in Travis County for early voting and on election day in the 2018 General Election. We had one and two-hour waits in lines that snaked through the grocery store. The actual polling area was in a place barely big enough to hold the tables, voting equipment, and the number of lines required to move people through the process. We had no poll watchers. I can’t imagine what it would be like to try to cram watchers from two (or more!) parties in and keep them in a position where they could both see and hear. This would put major stress on both election workers and voters. It would certainly cause longer lines. And the law doesn’t even deal with the issue of what happens if poll watchers from different parties disagree. It’s already difficult to find election workers. The hours are long and the pay is low. How can we hold elections if we don’t have election clerks and judges?

“The Legislature should make voting easier, not harder, not longer. These provisions are disrespectful of voters’ lives and time. They disenfranchise those who work more than one job or have little kids or disabled people with them. I ask you to vote against {HB 3/SB1} because of these and the many other voter suppression provisions it includes.”


This is a little over two minutes. That’s too long for the Senate’s two-minute limit and close to the House’s three-minute limit, so you should modify or re-write it to suit your own story.

If you CAN’T be in Austin…

You can submit written comments on HB 3 HERE. Fill in your contact information, then select “HB 3 by Murr.” You can write about 2,000 words. See above for a sample of what you could write. (Remember it’s a recorded document, so don’t stretch the truth.)

LINKS

Need a little help in giving testimony? You can sign up for training to be online Friday July 9, 6:30-8:00 PM at https://www.facebook.com/events/523064695557195/.