Every election season, my social media feed is full of friends and family proudly showing off their “I Voted” stickers. Yet over the years, Americans have become less and less confident in their elections. Polls have shown that most Americans question whether one of the last two presidential elections was legitimately decided.
In response to this lack of confidence, many states are pursuing reforms to ensure their election systems are transparent and every voter’s ballot safeguarded. Texas is among them: The Legislature is seeking to strengthen our elections through House Bill 6 and Senate Bill 7.
Unfortunately, some leaders on the left are making a concerted effort to stop these reforms. We recently saw a nasty fight play out in Georgia, when opponents of the state’s election reform attacked the bill and bullied corporations into joining them.
After President Joe Biden lied about the bill — earning four Pinocchios, the strongest rating, from The Washington Post’s fact-checker — he said he would “strongly support” Major League Baseball pulling this summer’s All-Star Game from Georgia. Less than 48 hours later, baseball did just that.
Opponents of reform are using the same hostage-taking tactics in Texas, threatening to boycott businesses who don’t join them. A few corporations already caved to the pressure; Dell and American Airlines denounced the bills without citing a single provision that they oppose.
Of course, if businesses target Texas, it’s working families who would suffer, not lawmakers. CEOs know that, but they’re willing to put Texans at risk to get their way.
Corporations misleadingly proclaimed that Texas’ proposed election reforms will “restrict voting access” and are “undemocratic.” The legislation addresses common concerns that cross party lines: 58% of Texans are concerned or very concerned about election fraud from mail-in ballots, for instance, including 59% of independents. These bills would create a more secure, more uniform voting process in Texas that maintains access for all voters.
Texans currently enjoy two weeks of early voting for all elections, more than states such as New Jersey and New York. Senate Bill 7 would expand early voting hours in many counties and standardize them statewide. It also would create an online tool for voters to track their mail ballot applications and their ballots. These common-sense, bipartisan reforms provide the consistency and transparency that every Texan voter should expect.
Opponents further allege these reforms would allow poll watchers to intimidate voters and election officials, even saying the activity should be barred entirely. But poll watchers already serve under rules clearly defined by the Texas Election Code. Senate Bill 7 strengthens that code, requiring an oath to not harass voters or disrupt the process.
Unfortunately, during the 2020 election, some poll watchers were illegally removed or obstructed from observing the process. Together, these bills would preserve the ability of election judges to remove a poll watcher who threatens a voter, while strengthening poll-watcher protections to ensure a transparent and fair process. All sides should be able to agree that transparency is crucial for voter confidence and free elections.
Lawmakers in Austin should be applauded for their efforts to balance the privacy and accessibility of the ballot box and the fairness and transparency of our elections. Activists and corporations promoting boycotts based on misleading narratives around these bills are only hurting Texas workers and voters.
The truth is that Texas is taking action to make it easier to vote but harder to cheat, so that all Texans can have confidence in our elections.
Rebekah Warwick is the Central Regional Coordinator for Heritage Action for America, a conservative policy advocacy organization and a member of the Star-Telegram Editorial Board’s Community Advisory Board. She lives in Grand Prairie.