Houston Chronicle by Zach Despart 5/4/2021
Snubbed by Greater Houston Partnership, 175 business leaders raise alarm about Texas voting bills
A group of 175 business leaders sent a letter to House Speaker Dade Phelan Tuesday morning opposing several key provisions of the voting bills being debated in the Texas Legislature, which they said would add unacceptable barriers for Houston-area residents to cast a ballot.
It raises alarm over provisions that would move polling sites away from Houston’s urban core, limit voting hours, ban drive-thru voting, remove restrictions on poll watchers, streamline voter roll purges and add a host of criminal penalties for poll workers and local election officials found in violation of the Texas Election Code.
“These provisions, among others, will inevitably damage our competitiveness in attracting businesses and workers to Houston,” the letter states. “Especially as we aim to attract major conferences and sporting events, including the FIFA World Cup, voter suppression is a stain on our reputation that could cost our region millions of dollars.”
The Republican lawmakers who wrote the legislation say the bills are needed to make elections more secure, though voter fraud in Texas elections is extremely rare. Several of the proposals take aim at rolling back efforts Harris County made in 2020 to make voting easier.