Remarks given by Joe Jaworski on April 2, 2021 at 3:45 a.m. before the House Elections Committee in opposition to HB6.
Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee, I appear before you today to oppose House Bill 6. My name is Joe Jaworski, I am a third-generation Texas lawyer licensed by the Texas Supreme Court since 1991, a former Mayor of Galveston, Texas and I’m a declared candidate for the Democratic nomination for Texas Attorney General.
Yes, some votes are cast illegally. We have laws, enforcement and punishment already capable of dealing with it. The best way to meaningfully guarantee the integrity of our election outcomes is to increase the legal vote. That’s how you protect the popular vote – by increasing voter access so the true will of the majority of the people is understood.
Same day registration and voting, drive through voting, multiple and accessible mail-in ballot drop box location in every county, late night voting hours so shift workers can vote, expanded weekend voting: all of these innovations are proven to increase voter turnout and none of it is proven to increase illegal voting.
Restaurants, retail businesses, sports and entertainment venues, communities of faith have all adapted to the times and widened their availability to meet their customers’ diverse needs. Why doesn’t government do the same? Why can I drive through to purchase a Starbucks or a hamburger, but I can’t drive through and vote? Why can I scribble my signature on the electronic keypad to pay for groceries, but my son’s first ballot ever was cancelled because his signatures supposedly didn’t match? Why can I buy a gun in 30 minutes at Academy, but I have to register to vote 30 days before an election?
Voting is essential to democracy. In the American order of things, your right to vote precedes freedom of speech, freedom to worship, the right to bear arms, and your right to be free from illegal search and seizure. I’m not minimizing any of those freedoms protected in the Bill of Rights. I’m just here to remind you what came first: the right to vote. It was the vote that allowed these other rights to become law in the first place.
America emerged from a monarchy that suppressed our rights – we fought and won a revolutionary war, and we changed the world. Texas did the same when it defeated the Mexican Army at San Jacinto. The United States defeated the Confederacy in a war fought to end slavery, and the Fourteenth Amendment followed. Decades later, States retified the 19th Amendment, and women gained the right to vote. When the Jim Crow laws suppressed black voters’ rights, the Civil Rights movement brought us the Voting Rights Act of 1965, making us a more perfect Union.
But in this moment, House Bill 6 and its companion Senate Bill 7 treat voting transactionally, as a zero-sum game, and doing that tragically disrespects our American experience. I think you should drop this bill, write a new one and adopt all the innovations that Harris County developed for the 2020 cycle. You know why? The voters liked them. Texas voters deserve first class service and you’re treating us like delinquent children. We don’t deserve that.
It’s imperative that Texas voters call these bills out for what they are: HB6 and SB7 are intended to make voting less accessible, harder, and less frequent. That’s unconstitutional, anti-Texan, and un-American.