Eric Gay / AP
The months of partisan battles in Texas ended Thursday at the end, as members of the Republican House passed new voting restrictions, bringing legislation to the governor’s table.
The vote on the nearly 50-page bill, SB1, passed Texas House 79-37, mostly on party lines, and follows Democrats ’unprecedented efforts to block it.
In late May, House Democrats staged a dramatic 11-hour halt to halt voting before the end of the legislative session. Then-Republican Gov. Greg Abbott called a special session, but dozens of Democrats fled the state, angering Republicans and denying them a quorum to do business at the state Capitol. The showdown lasted 38 days, until last week enough Democrats returned to Austin, allowing GOP lawmakers to move forward on their bill.
Democrats had brought their struggle to Washington, DC, imploring Congress to advance federal voting protections. These measures are stopped at Capitol Hill.
And now Texas, which already has some of the strictest voting rules in the country, will become the last Republican-led state to pass new restrictions on voting and electoral administration after the 2020 election.
The Republican-led state Senate has passed a similar measure. The House bill will now go to the Senate.
House legislation in Texas would add new identification requirements for people who want to vote by mail; add new criminal sanctions to the voting process; to train observers in favor of the polls; and banning automatic voting and 24-hour options, measures taken last year by Harris County in Houston.
Harris County officials have said black voters were the majority of people who took advantage of the 24-hour voting option. Separately, a report from the Texas ACLU found that more than 70% of lawsuits for alleged voting offenses committed by the state attorney general’s office have been directed at black and Latino voters.
Democrats and voting rights activists say Texas provisions are unnecessary restrictions that stem from unfounded claims of electoral fraud by former President Donald Trump and his allies, and would especially hurt disabled voters, voters of color and urban voters of a rapidly changing demographic state.
Republicans said their efforts are in the service of “electoral integrity” to make the trap difficult, although proven cases of electoral or electoral fraud are extremely rare. They say the changes enacted by Harris County last year were unauthorized extensions of voting rules.
While the result in Texas was essentially a lost conclusion: Republicans control the state house, Democrats can argue that their disruptive tactics influenced the final legislation. The bill, which was nearly passed in late May, for example, would have been slashed in Sunday’s vote, a provision a Republican spokesman said was a mistake, a “control error.” .
Texas will be soon the last GOP-led state to enact new voting restrictions, joining Georgia, Florida, Arizona and others.
And while swing states that have added new electoral restrictions this year have drawn more attention, more states, led primarily by Democrats, have adopted legal measures that expand access to voting. This includes Nevada and Illinois.