Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons
Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson said Texas Senate Bill 9 would scare voters away from the polls.
Just how problematic is Texas Senate Bill 9, the GOP-championed proposal that would make its a state jail felony
to incorrectly fill out a voter application?
Problematic enough that a former top Republican elections official is asking Lone Star State lawmakers — primarily those from his own party — to back away from it.
Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson said he's concerned the measure will scare honest voters away from the polls by making them think they could wind up in prison for a paperwork error. The bill also imposes too much red tape and overrides the authority of local election officials, he argues.
"I think Texas policymakers ought to be focused on modernizing and securing our elections so that everyone who's eligible to vote can vote and only eligible votes count," said Grayson, who's contacted lawmakers by phone and plans a visit to the capitol. "SB 9, unfortunately, doesn't advance those things."
Grayson chairs the Secure Elections Project, an advocacy group tied to the bipartisan Center for Secure and Modern Elections
, which shares his concerns about the bill.
In case SB 9 slipped under your radar this legislative session, supporters say the measure will crack down on voter fraud, while civil rights groups argue it's more about scaring off potential Democratic voters
— namely the young, the poor and people of color. Texas, it bears repeating, has a long history
of using erroneous voter fraud claims to keep people away from the polls.
Grayson stopped short of assigning that motive to fellow Republicans who support SB 9. Even so, he said the measure still amounts to overkill since existing election fraud safeguards work and result in arrests
What's more, Grayson added, Republicans' continued fixation with making it harder to vote is giving his own party a black eye.
"We're sending a message to voters that we can't win on our own," he said.
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