Sep 7, 2021
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Vows to “Eliminate All Rapists”, Signs Voting Bill Press Conference Transcript
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 1 into law on September 7, 2021. He discussed the new election law and defended the new law banning abortions after 6 weeks, vowing to “eliminate all rapists.” Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Governor Greg Abbott: (00:00)
Well, I want to thank everybody for joining with us here today for the signing of some very important legislation in Texas. Now, one thing that all Texans can agree, and that is that we must have trust and confidence in our elections. The bill that I am about to sign helps to achieve that goal.
Governor Greg Abbott: (00:22)
One thing that it does is it ensures that every eligible voter will have the opportunity to vote. One way that it achieves that is it provides even more hours of time for people to be able to go cast their vote. Let’s do some comparison here, so you can understand the magnitude of the early voting time period that voters have in the state of Texas. Texas provides 12 days of early voting, and this law even adds more hours during those early voting days. By comparison, the president’s home state of Delaware provides zero days and zero hours of early voting. No one is saying that what happens in Delaware denies people the right to vote. Similarly, in Texas, because of the 12 days of early voting and even more hours of early voting, as well as flexibility with regard to voting on Election Day, it ensures that Texas provides even more opportunities for people to engage in the voting process than the president’s home state of Delaware, as well as many other states across the entire country. The law does, however, make it harder for fraudulent votes to be cast. One area that makes it harder to cheat concerns mail-in ballots. Now, mail-in ballots, this is an area where both Republicans as well as Democrats agree has been the easiest way to cheat in the election process. The law that I’m about to sign fixes that problem.
Governor Greg Abbott: (02:01)
Another issue that this law addresses is ballot harvesting. It makes ballot harvesting a third degree felony.
Speaker 2: (02:12)
Governor Greg Abbott: (02:17)
Now, this is… Ballot harvesting is a serious problem in the state of Texas, and that comes from a federal district judge who was appointed to serve in Texas by President Barack Obama. That federal district judge heard a case, a trial, and during that trial there was an abundance of evidence presented, an abundance of law presented, and after all of the law and all of the evidence was presented, the judge appointed by Barack Obama wrote an opinion, deciding that case. And in that opinion, that judge wrote that ballot harvesting occurs in abundance in the state of Texas, showing the challenge that it poses and showing the reason why Texas took up this cause to make sure that ballot harvesting fraud will be eliminated in the state of Texas.
Governor Greg Abbott: (03:13)
The bottom line of what the law does is what the members around me have said all along. The Texas law, it does make it easier than ever before for anybody to go cast a ballot. It does also, however, make sure that it is harder for people to cheat at the ballot box in Texas. I want to thank the lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan, Senator Bryan Hughes, and Representative Murr, as well as the Texas legislature for their tireless work in session after session to make sure that we got this across the finish line. We have with us, and I hope I’m getting everybody, also we have Representative Doc Anderson, Representative Cole Hefner, Representative James White, Representative Keith Bell, Representative Travis Clardy, as well as local representative, Matt Schaefer. We thank them for being here. We thank them for helping to get this bill to my desk. Now, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.
Lieu. Gov. Dan Patrick: (04:28)
Thank you, Governor, and thank you for coming to Tyler for this, Bryan Hughes. Senator Hughes had quite a session, by the way. Senate Bill 1, Senate Bill 3, Senate Bill 8, and Senate Bill 12, was it? Yes… Four cornerstones of conservative policies that will help make Texas stronger quickly about this election bill. And I want to thank Representative Murr and Senator Hughes for getting this across the finish line.
Lieu. Gov. Dan Patrick: (05:02)
You hear the media, I’m sure no one here, the left-wing media, you hear the Democrats say it’s tough to vote in Texas. Well, that’s just a lie.
Speaker 4: (05:11)
No, it’s not.
Lieu. Gov. Dan Patrick: (05:12)
The Texas Association of Business did a poll in June, and 95% of Texans said it’s easy to vote in Texas. When we passed photo voter ID in the Senate in 2011, I was one of the authors of that bill, they said the same thing about that bill. It’s going to suppress votes and people won’t vote. Since that bill passed, Texas has increased voter turnout more than any other state in the country. We have increased… Governor, this is amazing. We’ve increased turnout in the gubernatorial election from 2014 to 2018, when we ran, by 76%. There were five million people who voted for Governor Abbott and myself. I’m talking about all voters in 2014. Almost eight and a half million in 2018. You don’t hear that from the left. You don’t hear that from the Democrats. We’ve increased voter turnout in Texas by almost 40% over 10 years and the participation by registered voters. 10 years ago, it was about 58% of all registered voters, and in this past election, it was almost 67%.
Lieu. Gov. Dan Patrick: (06:28)
So I don’t want to hear this nonsense and the lies that we continually hear that it’s tough to vote in Texas. Texas turns out voters because they have confidence that our elections are always going to be fair, and Senate Bill 1 will give them even more confidence. We want to see more people vote, we want to see them vote fairly, and we don’t want the cheaters to undermine our elections. That’s what Texas is about, turning out people to vote and making sure the elections are fair and honest and cheaters are caught. Governor, back to you.
Governor Greg Abbott: (06:58)
Thank you. Well, we are delighted to be in the district of Senator Bryan Hughes today, which I think may also represent one of my hometowns, Longview, Texas. Does it not?
Senator Bryan Hughes: (07:14)
Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
Governor Greg Abbott: (07:14)
It’s great to be back in my hometown of East Texas. But, Senator, thank you for your leadership on this. I’ll turn the mike over to you.
Senator Bryan Hughes: (07:22)
Governor, thank you so much. I want to thank everyone for being here today. It’s an exciting day, and we don’t want to forget what brought us here. Today is a happy day, a positive day. We’re here because we’re responding to some real problems we’ve had in Texas. In Longview, Governor, as you know, we have a county commissioner under indictment for mail ballot fraud. Anybody who tells you, anybody who tells you there’s no voter fraud in Texas is telling you a very big lie. It’s going on today. This bill deals with that. As you know, over hundreds of counts pending against dozens of defendants. And let me just give one example, as I close my part, just so we know this is about real people who are trying to vote. This is about people who are trying to cast their ballots, but cheaters, ballot harvesters, bad actors, paid political criminals, are trying to get in between the voter and their ballot.
Senator Bryan Hughes: (08:08)
This is sworn testimony from a trial in Hidalgo County. This is from Ms. Cavazos. She’s a first-time voter. She’s explaining what happened to her with someone who she thought was there to help her. Here’s what she says. I’m going to quote her sworn testimony. She says, “And then I go to the polling place, and Marcella goes up. I go to the polls, and Marcella comes up behind me. I had the intention that she was going to assist me, how to do those things because I didn’t understand that machine. So she started punching in the machine. I don’t even remember the language in the poll, so she was telling me, ‘You’re going to press here. You’re going to press over there.’ So I saw that she put it in favor of the team she was on.”
Senator Bryan Hughes: (08:45)
And here’s how the voter concludes. This is her sworn testimony. She says this. This vulnerable early voter, new to the process, she says this. “So I had the idea that she was giving me a tour of how to do those things and that she was going to leave. So by the time I told her, ‘Okay, let me. Let me. Let me vote on my own,’ she said, ‘No, you already voted.'”
Governor Greg Abbott: (09:08)
Senator Bryan Hughes: (09:09)
That’s what Senate Bill 1’s about, protecting voters like Ms. Cavazos, like our voters in East Texas, in urban Texas, across the state. We have a great system in Texas. This bill will make it better, protecting voters, letting them cast their votes.
Senator Bryan Hughes: (09:20)
How does this bill make it easier to vote? In addition to what you’ve already heard, if you’re in line now during early voting, you show up at the polls and the polls close, under Senate Bill 1, for the first time in Texas, you must be allowed to vote. What if your job does not allow you to get off work to vote? On Election Day, your employer has to let you off, but that’s not true for early voting until today, because when the governor signs this law under Senate Bill 1, that same protection for working people, for real people, will be extended to early voting. So many things we could say about how it makes it easier to vote, and yes, harder to cheat. We think we know the voters of every race, every demographic, every region of the state, want their votes to count, to be counted fairly. That’s what this bill is about, and we’re so glad to be here.
Senator Bryan Hughes: (10:02)
Governor, it’s an honor to have you back in Tyler. My goodness, just months ago we were here talking about the social media bill. Thank you again for all you do. You should know the governor is very hands-on. He’s involved in the details of these bills. He cares about these things. And Lieutenant Governor Patrick, this is Senate Bill 1 for a reason. In case you didn’t know, those numbers are assigned by the lieutenant governor. He gave this bill number one, highest priority for the Texas Senate and the Texas legislation. Governor Abbott, man. Governor Abbott and Governor Patrick continue to push these forward, ignoring what we heard from the woke corporations who hadn’t read the bill, ignoring the national DC talking points, and protecting Texas voters.
Senator Bryan Hughes: (10:42)
The right to vote… I know we have people here who’ve worn the uniform. I know we have some that I know personally. The right to vote is too precious. The cost was too high for it to go unsecured, and so Senate Bill 1, easy to vote, hard to cheat. So thankful. So proud to be here today with each one of you. And let me thank each one who made phone calls, who made visits, who prayed, who got involved in America. The government works for the people, and your voice matters.
Senator Bryan Hughes: (11:07)
And I’m so proud to be here sitting next to Representative Andrew Murr. I’ve known Rep. Murr for a while. We hadn’t worked on a big bill together until this, and I hope you got to watch him present this bill in front of the house. If not, it’s worth a look to go back and look. You should listen to his closing remarks. He talks about an election fraud that took place back in the 1940s. And he might not be here but for that, he might not talk to us about that today, but I’m so thankful that he is representing the hill country and the Texas House and he shepherded this bill through the process. He and the excellent members behind us got this bill and saw it through. So I’m going to yield my time now and recognize Chairman Andrew Murr. Welcome to Tyler.
Rep. Andrew Murr: (11:46)
I appreciate the opportunity to be in Tyler, and hats off to Governor Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Patrick and Chairman Hughes. We couldn’t have done it without any of you. All of you were engaged in this process, and I appreciate the opportunity to work with my House members to bring Senate Bill 1 before you today. I’ll just point out, I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but Senate Bill 1 increases access to voting, provide safeguards to ensure that all legally cast votes are counted, updates outdated election codes, and provides a basis of uniformity and consistency for all voting jurisdictions while still giving our local jurisdictions, our local governments, the flexibility they need to adequately address their constituents’ concerns and needs. And so hats off to everyone for making this a reality. Couldn’t have done it without my colleagues behind me. Senator Hughes, congratulations.
Senator Bryan Hughes: (12:43)
Governor Greg Abbott: (12:50)
Now let’s make this final.
Governor Greg Abbott: (13:09)
There you go.
Speaker 2: (13:09)
Senator Bryan Hughes: (13:09)
Thank you, Governor. Thank you.
Lieu. Gov. Dan Patrick: (13:15)
Thank you, Governor.
Governor Greg Abbott: (13:16)
Election integrity is now law in the state of Texas. We’ll take a few questions.
Speaker 8: (13:30)
Governor Abbott, why Tyler?
Governor Greg Abbott: (13:32)
Well, we’re in Tyler because the lead advocate for this from the very beginning has been Bryan Hughes. If you watch Senator Bryan Hughes talk on television, talk to the media, talk to the Senate, talk to the House, talk to me about it, he carried a heavy load in getting this across the finish line, and so in his district is the right place to sign SB 1 into law in Texas.
Speaker 9: (14:02)
Governor Abbott, parts of the new law are already being challenged in court. Are you worried that parts of this could be overturned?
Governor Greg Abbott: (14:15)
I’d be astonished if a law like this was not challenged in court. We’ve seen it happen whenever laws like this are passed. The first thing the Democrats do is they run to the courthouse and try to challenge it. I feel extremely confident that when this law makes it through the litigation phase, it will be upheld in a court of law because exactly what we’ve said. It does make it easier for people to be able to go vote. No one who is eligible to vote will be denied the opportunity to vote. It does, however, make it harder for cheaters to cast an illegal ballot. Those are the kinds of principles that the courts will uphold.
Speaker 10: (14:57)
Governor, all eyes have been on Texas for several months now on this. Now that this is law, what do you expect to happen as far as other states possibly following suit? And there’s others who are in Georgia that have, but does this open the door, and do you think it will?
Governor Greg Abbott: (15:10)
Well, listen, Texas obviously is a national leader as it concerns the laws that we pass and other states follow, and if other states are looking for a paradigm of what is a good approach to make sure that everybody who wants to vote is going to have the opportunity to do so, this is that type of bill. Not all states provide 12 days of early voting, with the additional hours of early voting, and not all states provide that people will get time off from work to be able to go cast a vote. Not all states provide that people who show up in line during the voting hours, as long as they show up before the polls close, even if it’s a one or two-hour long line, they will be able to cast their vote. Texas does make it so easy to vote that this is a good paradigm for other states to follow.
Speaker 11: (16:00)
Two more questions.
Speaker 12: (16:02)
Governor, regarding the heartbeat bill, why force a rape or incest victim to carry a pregnancy to term?
Governor Greg Abbott: (16:08)
It doesn’t require that at all, because obviously it provides at least six weeks for a person to be able to get an abortion. And so, for one, it doesn’t provide that. That said, however, let’s make something very clear. Rape is a crime, and Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas by aggressively going out and arresting them and prosecuting them and getting them off the streets. So goal number one in the state of Texas is to eliminate rape so that no woman, no person, will be a victim of rape. But in addition to that, we do want to make sure that we provide support for those who are victims of rape. And we have organizations that we as a state support, that others support, to make sure that anybody who’s victimized that will get the support they need.
Speaker 12: (17:04)
Are you planning to increase support for those moms once those babies are delivered?
Governor Greg Abbott: (17:07)
Speaker 11: (17:07)
Speaker 13: (17:08)
Governor Abbott, I want to talk about masks in schools. One of the largest districts in East Texas, Lufkin, is enacting a mask mandate for staff and students today. Superintendent Lynn Torres said last week that she wished the state would have given them more help with this in making a decision, more of a backing. Do you think you’ve done enough for schools to help them keep the doors open and keep heir students and their staff safe?
Governor Greg Abbott: (17:29)
We think that the approach to schools is the right approach because it ensures that… The ultimate decision-maker for a child who goes to school actually is not a school. It’s a parent. What the state standard does, it prioritizes who must be prioritized, and that is a parent. Every parent has the right to decide whether or not their child will or will not wear a mask, and a parent knows far better than an educator or some other government bureaucrat whether or not a mask is right for a child.
Governor Greg Abbott: (18:05)
Another thing that we’ve seen now is a hodgepodge of different rulings from different jurisdictions across the state of Texas. There are some school districts that are adamant against having mask mandates, while at the same time, there are other school districts that want to impose mask mandates. And that is exactly why it is appropriate for the Texas Supreme Court to decide this issue so that we don’t have a patchwork decision-making process across the state of Texas. Instead, we have uniformity coming from the governor of the state of Texas.
Speaker 13: (18:38)
Thank you. [crosstalk 00:18:48]
Senator Bryan Hughes: (18:47)
Thank you so much, Governor. [crosstalk 00:18:55]