Loading...

Texas Legislature Poised to Pass State Voting Restrictions

April 7, 2021 by Reece Nations
Texas Legislature Poised to Pass State Voting Restrictions
Fog enshrouds Texas Capitol dome on Jan. 8, 2019, opening day of the 86th Texas Legislature. (Ken Herman/Austin American-Statesman/TNS)

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Republicans are moving to pass their own set of limits on voting as legislation restricting early voting access awaits a House committee assignment. 

The Texas bill, one of 361 bills pending nationwide with restrictive provisions, passed along party lines in the Senate last week after hours of contentious debate. The bill’s provisions would institute limits on early voting hours, prohibit local election officials from proactively mailing vote by mail applications to qualified individuals and illegalize drive-thru voting. 

In all, bills with restrictive voting provisions have been filed in 47 states, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Despite the continuing trend of states advancing bills with restrictive provisions, only five such bills have been enacted to date, while 843 bills with expansive provisions have been introduced by state legislatures nationwide. 

Although Republicans solidified their control in both chambers of the state’s legislature in November’s elections, Democrats made significant gains in urban and suburban communities. Ultimately, Republicans sustained the bicameral majority needed to advance their agenda amid last year’s record high voter turnouts. 

Harris County was the only Texas county to create drive-thru polling places in 2020, accounting for around 10% of all ballots cast in the election. In November, a federal judge rejected Republican activists’ request to dismiss the nearly 127,000 ballots cast at drive-thru locations. 

Proponents of the bill maintain the legislation would certify the integrity of state elections by suppressing bad actors from manipulating the voting process. Its opponents, however, portrayed the bill as an attempt at voter suppression by stifling initiatives utilized disproportionately by poor voters and voters of color. 

“Maintaining the integrity of our elections is vital to preserving public trust so our democracy can flourish, and that’s why I have made election security a top priority again this legislative session,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said in a written statement. “SB 7 will strengthen the public’s faith in our electoral process and ensure that every Texan knows that when they cast their ballot, their vote is secure.” 

In his remarks on the Senate floor, Republican Sen. Bryan Hughes, said the bill would standardize voting rules by requiring large counties with over one million residents to distribute polling locations based on eligible voters rather than voter turnout. 

Although the text of the bill as introduced limited voting to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., it was rewritten prior to its passage to permit voting between the hours of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Still, the provision drastically diminishes the ability for counties to accommodate shift workers as Harris County did in November by offering 24-hour voting periods. 

“These bills are racist Jim Crow-era laws and are an assault on our democracy,” Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party, said in a written statement. “They have no place in Texas. We are grateful to the businesses standing up for Texans, for voting, and for our democracy. Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick are learning that voter suppression is bad for business.” 

Hinojosa continued, “Texas is already the hardest state in the nation to vote in. These laws would add confusion to a complicated process and intimidate voters from casting their ballots. Republicans keep putting up roadblocks to make it harder to vote because they know that when people vote in large numbers, it’s always bad for their party.”

In The News

Health

Voting

In The States

July 5, 2022
by Dan McCue
Energy Efficiency, Green Jobs Standards Now Law in New York State

NEW YORK — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a legislative package of three bills into law on Tuesday that... Read More

NEW YORK — New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a legislative package of three bills into law on Tuesday that proponents say will promote clean energy development and energy efficiency while reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the Empire State for decades to come. It’s all about... Read More

July 4 Parade Shooting Leaves Six Dead, 30 Hurt; Man Detained

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) — A shooter fired on an Independence Day parade from a rooftop in suburban Chicago, spraying the crowd... Read More

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (AP) — A shooter fired on an Independence Day parade from a rooftop in suburban Chicago, spraying the crowd with gunshots initially mistaken for fireworks before hundreds of panicked revelers of all ages fled in terror. At least six people were killed and at least... Read More

Kobach Looks for Comeback in Kansas After Losing Two Big Races

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas voters have said no to Kris Kobach twice over the past four years. But he is nonetheless... Read More

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas voters have said no to Kris Kobach twice over the past four years. But he is nonetheless betting that this can be the year he makes a political comeback. His losses, including a 2018 defeat that handed the governor's office in this Republican-leaning state to... Read More

July 1, 2022
by Reece Nations
Gun Bill a No-Show at New York Legislature, New Special Session Convened

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York lawmakers’ plans to cast votes on concealed carry gun legislation Thursday were delayed for hours... Read More

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York lawmakers’ plans to cast votes on concealed carry gun legislation Thursday were delayed for hours by surprise negotiations on the extension of mayoral control of public education and an amendment to the state constitution to protect abortion rights. When Democratic Gov.... Read More

June 30, 2022
by Dan McCue
Supreme Court to Hear Case on State Authority Over Elections

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear an appeal from North Carolina Republicans that could ultimately remove... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear an appeal from North Carolina Republicans that could ultimately remove state court authority over congressional redistricting.  If they decide for the petitioners in Moore v. Harper, the justices would dramatically limit when state courts could intervene,... Read More

June 29, 2022
by Dan McCue
Matthews Wins Runoff to Challenge Incumbent Sen. Tim Scott

COLUMBIA, S.C. — S.C. Democratic state Rep. Krystle Matthews has won the Democratic primary runoff in South Carolina and with... Read More

COLUMBIA, S.C. — S.C. Democratic state Rep. Krystle Matthews has won the Democratic primary runoff in South Carolina and with it the right to challenge incumbent Republican Sen. Tim Scott in November. With 99% of precincts reporting as of Wednesday afternoon, Matthews beat challenger Catherine Fleming... Read More

News From The Well