How Senate Bill 1 will affect Tom Green County and surrounding areas

Local News

SAN ANGELO, Texas- Senate Bill 1, also known as the “Election Integrity Bill,” was signed into law in September. With special state elections next month and the governor’s race next year, it will affect the redistricting process in our area.

Senate Bill 1 would set new rules for voting by mail, boost protections for poll watchers and roll back local voting initiatives, namely those championed by Harris County, used by voters of color while expanding access in rural areas.

“SB1 is really designed to, in terms of its supporters to prevent election fraud and to kind of shore up the election process,” said Matthew Gritter, a Political Science Professor at Angelo State University. “It does some things that can expand access like, for example, a lot of rural areas might have expanded early voting hours. Then one of the things it does is it really prohibits things like overnight early voting hours, drive through voting, that were used in places like Harris County last year, so a lot of the things that were specifically put in place last year would be impacted by this.”

Community members are trying to make sure those without a voice are being represented at the table said Sherley Spears, president of the San Angelo NAACP.

“Civil rights organizations and people who are trying to make sure that those who are unserved or underserved have a voice at the table while all of this is being planned and negotiated,” Spears said. “You can certainly do some things about trying to have your voice heard when it comes to the redrawing of the districts and so I would say to keep in touch and understand that we will not have another opportunity for 10 more years to have a voice in what’s going on with redistricting.”

“The bill restricts access to the right to vote and targets the very measures that communities of color have disproportionately relied on to increase turnout in 2020 and in other recent elections,” a representative with the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) said. The LULAC filed a complaint on September 7th in a federal district court.

Spears for the NAACP agrees adding that Texas is now considered a majority minority state.

“A lot of disregard to people across the state of Texas in terms of representation. If our state has increased in minority population, you would imagine that of the two new seats that Texas was granted because of the increase in population. One of them or both of them perhaps would focus more on the minority community but that is not the case, that is not how the maps were drawn,” said Spears.

A first draft of the new congressional redistricting maps have been released.

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