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Proposed bill aims to prevent voter fraud, but critics say it's voter suppression

Posted at 12:27 AM, Mar 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-27 01:27:45-04

Many Texans are asking themselves if a proposed bill would add extra security to elections or if it's voter suppression.

A meeting in Austin took place Thursday for House Bill 6. The bill aims to prevent voter fraud while increasing criminal penalties and creating criminal offenses.

"The purpose of House Bill 6 is to make everything harder. It's harder to get your ID, it's harder to fill out the ballot, it's harder to get your ballot to the ballot box," explained Mary Duty, chair of the Democratic Party of McLennan County.

Hundreds showed up to the hearing for HB6, including Duty, who says lawmakers are trying to fix something that isn't broken.

"We came to say our peace because it matters so much, because knowing that the vote is fair and that the truth matters in America is what keeps us going," said Duty.

According to Duty, House Bill 6 and Senate Bill 7 would make election officials responsible for any clerical errors, meaning felony charges or jail time.

It would be a felony for a public official to hand out an unsolicited absentee ballot or application. If you want to vote by mail and claim to have a disability, the bill would require you to present proof.

"Now you're gonna have to get a doctor's note. That's a HIPAA violation, that's a violation of federal law. That's private information for a reason," said Duty.

Due to a procedural mishap, the hearing was cut short.

Those in favor of the bills say it will only provide people with a more transparent election cycle.

"I don't believe that there was a little bit of voter fraud going on, I personally believe there was a lot," said Jon Ker, chair of the McLennan County Republican Party. "If we lose fair and transparent elections, we lose our republic."

Ker says if people are doing things by the book, they shouldn't have to worry about the consequences the bills propose.

"If someone has in mind to occupy an election position so that they can cheat, they're going to think twice about it," said Ker.

Ker says he's confident the bills will pass, but in the meantime urges everyone to do their research and take action for whatever side they believe in.

"The grassroots need to let their legislators know how they feel, and you do that by giving them a call," said Ker.

The hearing for House Bill 6 has yet to be rescheduled.