According to the Brennan Center for Justice, Texas is one of at least 18 states that have introduced new voting restrictions since the 2020 elections.
The laws are part of a national GOP campaign, including in Florida, Georgia and Arizona, to tighten electoral laws in the name of safety, fueled in part by Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen.
Opponents didn’t wait for Abbott’s signature start filing lawsuits against the new Texas law known as Senate Bill 1. The American Civil Liberties Union, minority rights groups, and disability advocates are part of a broad coalition that filed separate lawsuits in federal court in Texas last week in which Republican lawmakers violated federal electoral law and intentional discrimination against minorities.
Some changes directly aim at the Houston areawhere President Joe Biden surpassed the surrounding county of 1.6 million voters by a margin of 13 points. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic last year, Harris County’s election officials offered 24-hour polling stations and drive-through voting, which is now banned under the new law. The county also attempted to send absentee ballot applications to more than 2 million registered voters, but in the future, any electoral officer in Texas who tries to send a motion to someone who doesn’t motion could face criminal prosecution.
Election observers are now entitled to exercise more, and electoral judges hindering them could also face criminal penalties, which Democrats believe could intimidate voters.
In response to new election restrictions in GOP-controlled state houses, the Democrats in Congress want to pass new federal voting protections, but were unable to overcome opposition from Republicans in the Senate.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Biden’s approach to voting, saying the president used his bullying pulpit and made Vice President Kamala Harris the point of contact on the matter. However, Psaki said the government plans to take additional, but unspecified, steps to address constituency concerns. “We would say to these advocates: We stand by you,” Psaki told reporters on Tuesday on board Air Force One. “There is more that we will continue to work on together.”
Abbott signed the bill 100 days after the Democrats kicked off a summer of final maneuvers Leaving the State Capitol to temporarily block the action. More than 50 Democrats flew to Washington, D.C., in July thwart the bill a second timewhich resulted in Republicans issuing civil arrest warrants to force Democrats to return, even though no one was forced to return.
But the protests did not result in any significant change to the bill, underscoring the Republicans’ determination to pass the measure and the strength of their commanding majority in the Texas Capitol.