GOP Voting Restriction Bill Passes Key Vote on Texas House Local News
AUSTIN – The Texas House of Representatives passed sweeping voting limits on Friday afternoon, in line with the Republican belief that the 2020 election was fraudulent. With a defection, Republican members of the House passed Senate Bill 78-64 and it is now awaiting the signature of Governor Greg Abbott, who has made election security a top priority.
From Florida to Georgia, to Iowa and now Texas, Republican lawmakers have used unsubstantiated claims by former President Donald Trump and his allies to justify further voting restrictions. They argue that the new limits, which largely target postal voting, are necessary to boost public confidence and improve safety. In some cases, the rules also create onerous requirements and penalties for local election officials.
“He’s old Jim Crow dressed in what our colleagues call electoral integrity,” said Democratic State Representative Jessica Gonzalez.
State Representative Cody Harris (R-Palestine) said the bill was a crucial step in ensuring free and fair elections.
“Throughout the interim, I have met hundreds of voters concerned about electoral integrity, and I am proud to say that we have taken significant steps to address these concerns by cracking down on the potential for harvest. voice and electoral fraud, ”he mentioned.
New voting limits were also enacted in Florida, Georgia and Iowa. Elsewhere, Republicans in Ohio and Michigan are also continuing to revise various electoral procedures.
“We are seeing the strong effect of President Trump’s big lie. We see the Republican Party doing everything it can to support him and his lies, ”said Sylvia Albert, director of votes and elections for Common Cause, which advocates expanded voter access. “We see them taking this opportunity to create deliberate barriers to black and brown voters voting. It is not American.
In Texas, Democrats had no way of stopping the bill in the GOP-controlled state capitol, but they deployed various technical challenges and used question hours to which the bill’s author. law, Republican state representative Briscoe Cain sometimes seemed unprepared to respond.
Finally, a deal was struck between Republicans and Democrats, leaving the bill with 20 amendments that significantly watered down some of what supporters have called the bill’s most problematic aspects by passing the key 81- vote. 64. The session ends on May 31.
The amendments initially lowered the improved criminal penalties proposed, allowed for the dismissal of election observers if they violated the peace, and clarified that election judges and volunteers would not be held accountable for honest mistakes. In addition, they instructed the state to send voter registration requests to high schools and called on the state to develop an online format to track advance ballots.
Abbott, who has not hesitated in his support for his party’s restrictions and has slammed the companies that have spoken out, reiterated his support Thursday by tweeting: ‘I made electoral integrity a matter of urgency this session to help ensure that every eligible voter can vote. and only eligible ballots are counted. “
Cain, who chairs the House Elections Committee and author of the House’s version of the voting bill, echoed those sentiments by urging his colleagues to support the proposals.
“We don’t need to wait for bad things to happen to protect election security,” Cain said. “I don’t think it’s voter suppression, I think it’s voter improvement.”
Other restrictions in Cain’s bill would prohibit Texas county officials from sending mail-in ballot request forms to all registered voters, the efforts of polling officials in Harris County – hence Cain is native – set up last year to expand access to ballots when in-person gatherings were larger. dangerous due to the coronavirus pandemic. Harris County, which includes Houston, is also a Democratic stronghold where 44% of its nearly 5 million residents are Latinos and 20% are black.
Voting rights groups say poor and minority voters will bear the brunt of GOP restrictions, and Republicans rely on the privilege of their voters to overcome obstacles. Some Republicans across the country have expressed concern that the new rules could end up hurting GOP voters as well. Republican voters, especially the elderly, have long embraced postal voting.
“What’s even more bewildering is that the proposed legislation attacks the voting practices that Republicans have relied on for decades to gain voters,” Texas State Representative Lyle Larson wrote, a Republican, in an opinion column earlier this week.
On Tuesday, more than 50 businesses and professional organizations, including some in Texas, published an open letter expressing their opposition to “any changes” that would make voting more difficult in that state.
Texas Republicans angrily dismissed the accusations. They say the measures would only limit powers that county leaders never had in the first place.
The Texas Senate also voted to approve several changes Thursday to the way the state conducts elections and, depending on your perspective, they will make elections safer; make voting more difficult.
Senate Bill 7 seeks to improve tracking of advance mail-in ballots, tighten voter identification laws for mail-in ballots and advance voting, tighten eligibility to vote mail would make it a crime if the information was incorrect, impose fines of $ 100 on electoral registrars who fail to correct ineligible voters from the voting lists in a collection by instance, restrict the solicitation of the mail ballot by postal voters County election officials, tighten rules for election observers, ban voting in parking lots or other temporary places, including tents, and ban 24-hour voting, while limiting the maximum number of voting hours to 6 hours -21 hours
The bill was drafted by Senator Bryan Hughes and he featured it on Twitter to celebrate the victory.
“This bill makes it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” said Hughes, who is from Mineola and represents the 1st District. “This is a strong electoral integrity bill of which we can be proud.”
The bill was passed around 2:30 a.m. Thursday.
At least two large companies – American Airlines and Dell Computers – have had negative reactions to the bill. In a statement, Dell Computer founder Michael Dell spoke out against House Bill 6, which pursues similar goals.
American Airlines, which is based in Fort Worth, said the measures were “undemocratic”.
“We strongly oppose this bill and others like this one. As a Texas-based company, we must stand up for the rights of our team members and customers who live in Texas, and honor the sacrifices made by generations of Americans to protect and expand the franchise. The vote is the hallmark of our democracy and the foundation of our great country. We value the democratic process and believe that every eligible American should be allowed to exercise their right to vote, regardless of which political party or candidate they support, ”the company said.
“We recognize how difficult this is for many of those who fought for and exercise their constitutional right to vote. Any legislation dealing with the conduct of elections must guarantee the integrity and security of ballots while facilitating voting and not more. At American, we believe we need to break down barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion in our society – not create them.
The fight for the vote in Texas is part of a larger national debate over voting rights. Liberal groups attacked the bill for its restrictions. Associated with House Bill 6, Texas could also restrict the help voters can receive to get to the polls. “
US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) applauded the passage of the Texas Voting Rights Bill.
“Texas House passed SB 7 at second reading, a bill to protect our election in Texas, despite immense pressure from corporate awakening and the liberal media,” he said. “The bill protects the voting rights of 29 million Texans and would make our elections in Texas more accessible and secure. When Texans go to vote, that vote should count. I am grateful to the Republicans and leaders of the Texas House and Senate who led the fight to protect the integrity of our Texas election, and I hope this bill becomes law.
Acacia Coronado contributed to this report for the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a national, nonprofit service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on secret issues.
Associated Press editor Christina A. Cassidy contributed to this report from Atlanta.