A progressive activist secretly recorded Republican state lawmakers saying their voter suppression bill is meant to keep Democrats from winning elections.
The footage was captured by Lauren Windsor, a progressive activist who posed as a supporter of Donald Trump as she spoke about the legislation to the lawmakers.
"We just want to make sure that Texas stays red and it doesn't become like Georgia," state Rep. Matt Krause told Windsor. President Joe Biden carried Georgia in 2020, becoming the first Democratic presidential nominee since 1992 to carry the state. Trump then tried to coerce Republican election officials in the state to "find" the exact number of votes he'd need to be declared the winner.
State Rep. Justin Holland made similar comments, responding to Windsor's prompt, "We had to get engaged in the fight to make sure that Democrats don't take over the state, and so we just want to make sure that y'all get the election bill passed." Holland responded, "That's what we're here for. Yep... they're gonna lose seats, they're not gonna gain seats next time. They're not gonna take over. They're gonna actually erode. And so we're going to make sure we come back with more Republicans next time."
Publicly, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott has claimed that the bill, which limits early voting, makes it harder to vote by mail, and gives more authority to poll watchers, is about "election integrity."
"There's really one thing all of us can and should agree upon, and that is we must have trust and confidence in our elections," Abbott said in March. "One way to do that is to make sure that we reduce the potential for voter fraud in our elections."
However, Democratic state legislators, a number of whom have left the state to deny Republicans a quorum in the Legislature to vote on the bill, say the newly released video is more proof that the bill is about keeping Republicans in power.
"It was never about 'election integrity,'" Democratic state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, one of the Democratic lawmakers who left the state to keep the bill from coming to a vote, tweeted in response to the video. "It was about an unpopular party, in an increasingly diverse Texas, doing whatever it takes to hold onto power - even if it means sacrificing our democracy. Texans deserve better."
Democratic state Rep. Julie Johnson tweeted, "This bill we are fighting in #Texas is not about 'election integrity. It never really was. Texas Republicans have openly admitted they only want to retain power."
Abbott had called a special session of the Legislature to pass the bill, along with a list of other right-wing bills that would do everything from prohibiting transgender youth from playing on school sports teams of their gender to limiting access to abortion. That session ended on Friday without any bills being passed, and Abbott called a second special session that began on Saturday.
But the Democratic state lawmakers haven't returned to allow a quorum for voting and have filed a lawsuit against Republican leaders in Texas who are trying to compel them to come back, while also telling Congress to pass federal voting rights bills to combat efforts to restrict voting access such as the ones Texas Republicans are attempting to pass.
"This is not about election integrity, it's to keep anyone from voting that isn't a Republican," Democratic state Rep. Jarvis Johnson tweeted. "They just want to keep the state red. There is no shame."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.