Fact Check: Does Senate Bill 7 Change ‘Nothing’ About Early Voting Rules?

Our weekly check in with the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

By Brandon Mulder, PolitiFact/Austin American-Statesman; radio story produced by Alexandra HartApril 14, 2021 3:52 pm,

From PolitiFact Texas:

Yes, the Texas Senate’s election bill SB7 changes early voting rules

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stood before reporters during a Tuesday morning news conference in which he excoriated Democrats and many in the media for spreading “lies” about Senate Bill 7, a measure that would restrict voting access in the state.

“The left, the Democrats, many in the media, some in this room, across the state, across the country, have changed the word sadly from ‘voter security’ to ‘voter suppression’ or ‘voter restriction,’” Patrick, a Republican, said angrily. “Senate Bill 7 is about voter security not about voter suppression, and I’m tired of lies and the nest of liars who continue to repeat them.”

Before explaining how the bill would amend the state election code, Patrick said something that he would repeat during the 35-minute press conference.

“Nothing has changed in the election code (under SB7) regarding early voting. Nothing has changed,” he said.

SB 7 was passed along party lines by the Texas Senate last week and is one of two voting bills being considered by the Legislature. Similar to voting bills in Georgia and other states, SB 7 is designed to diminish local control over elections.

The bill would prohibit local election administrators from extending early voting hours and operating drive-thru voting centers. It also would bar election officials from sending out mail-in ballot applications without a voter’s request and, among other things, gives partisan poll watchers more access to polling locations during voting hours.

Patrick said the measures are intended to restore people’s trust in American democracy following the 2020 presidential election. Patrick has perpetuated former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was plagued by voter fraud. In November, the lieutenant governor offered $1 million in rewards to anyone who provided information leading to an arrest and conviction for voter fraud. (When asked by a reporter Tuesday if he would be rewarding Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman, who says he provided Patrick with two cases of Trump voters casting ballots in the name of their deceased mothers, Patrick said, “I didn’t come here to take stupid questions from the media.”)

“People in America have lost faith in their elections,” he said. “We have to resolve that issue in this country and in this state. That’s why SB 7 is needed.”

For this fact-check we focus on Patrick’s first claim — that SB 7 wouldn’t change anything in the election code regarding early voting. Let’s look at how the bill would affect early voting…

Read the full story and see how Patrick’s claim rated at PolitiFact Texas. And listen to an interview with PolitiFact’s Brandon Mulder in the audio player above.

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