CNN’s Brianna Keilar Grills Texas Lawmaker Who Helped Write Election Bill: ‘Why Are You OK With Suppressing Voting By People of Color?’

Leia Idiby

Media ITE

Jun 2, 2021

CNN’s Brianna Keilar grilled Texas state Senator Brian Hughes (R) on Wednesday, confronting him on his support of the state’s new voting bill.

Introducing Hughes, Keilar noted that the lawmaker is one of the lead authors of the controversial piece of legislation — Senate Bill 7.

The CNN first asked of the Sunday voting measure included in the bill, which initially restricted voting times from 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm, also pointing out that one of the bill’s authors, Rep. Travis Clardy, claimed the hours were meant to begin at 11:00 am.

Hughes said he trusted House members regarding the typo, insisting the goal is to extend voting hours, not diminish them, causing Keilar to question why the lawmaker defended the initial hours.

“You said election workers, they want to go to church, too, that’s why it says 1:00 pm, no later than 9:00,” she said. “You can make Sunday service and go after that, and then you admitted you talked to election workers about this.”

“As a matter of fact, Souls to the Polls and in Harris County, is normally done starting at 1:00,” said Hughes. “They’ve done it from 1:00 on for a long time. This is nothing new. Souls to the Polls where I live, folks go to church, eat and then go vote. Senator [Royce] West reminded us sometimes folks vote early and then go eat. So we’re going to clean it up to make sure there’s no question about it.”

Keilar later pushed Hughes on the bill’s restrictions on Texans of color, questioning the emphasis on voter fraud when it’s not a largely documented issue in the state.

“They say everything is bigger in Texas,” said Keilar. “But actually voter fraud is not. It’s minuscule in Texas. So why are you OK with suppressing voting by people of color with this bill to combat what’s really a non-problem?”

Hughes claimed Keilar was attempting to drag Texas into “a big national debate” surrounding voting laws, adding that lawmakers are attempting to fix problems in the state.

Keilar said she was not trying to drag the state into any debate, instead highlighting that the way the bill is written will likely cause a decrease in votes from people of color.

“I just ask: Why is that when you only have 43 pending voter fraud charges in Texas? Only one is from 2020,” she continued. “You’ve previously misquoted that as, I think, about 400. It’s really 43. Only one is from 2020 and there were 16 minor prosecutions for 2020. It was just people putting down addresses that weren’t theirs.”

“There are hundreds of open cases in Texas,” Hughes responded, sparking a back-and-forth between the two.

“No, there’s not. There’s not. There’s not.” she said. “You may be talking about complaints, which anyone can file. There are not ‘hundreds of open cases.’ There are 43 pending voter fraud charges in Texas. This is according to your Republican attorney general’s office. There are not hundreds, Sir.”

The two later hashed out specific aspects of the bill, Hughes saying the legislation applies to all voters “across the board.”

“The crux of what you said was, you said that this — that this rules apply across the board, and I want to ask you about that because what your bill does effectively, though, is it stops drive-through voting in Harris County, which is the most populous and the most diverse county. It limits the hours — there’s no more 24/7 voting,” she noted. “The drive-through voting in particular, that was something that a lot of people of color flocked to. And it helped bring out their votes.”

Royce West montage