The U.S. civil rights group says the legislation will make it “harder and scarier to vote,” especially for people of color.
The US state of Texas has come close to passing a contentious vote restriction bill that U.S. President Joe Biden previously denounced as “part of an assault on democracy” that would disproportionately harm blacks and other people of color.
The legislation, which Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has said he plans to sign into law if passed, would eliminate automatic voting, enable partisan observers in polls and limit voting on Sundays, when many black religious they will go to the polls, among other restrictions.
The Texas Senate passed the bill in an 18-13 vote shortly after 6:00 a.m. local time (11:00 GMT) Sunday after an overnight debate, The New York Times reported. and the House is expected to take action later. The legislative session will expire at midnight.
Civil rights groups have criticized the legislation – formally known as Senate Bill 7 or SB7 – as an attack on voting rights.
“The bill will make it much harder and scarier to vote, in a state that is already the hardest place to vote in the country,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas released Saturday.
The bill is one of several laws that Republican lawmakers are pushing for in the United States to restrict voting after the 2020 presidential election, which former President Donald Trump falsely said was clouded by widespread electoral fraud.
In a statement Saturday afternoon, Biden said the bill is “wrong and anti-American.”
“It’s part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen too often this year, and that is often disproportionately directed against black and brown Americans,” the U.S. president said.
Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas branch of the National Association for the Advancement of People of Color (NAACP), said Sunday that “this law to take us back to the time of Jim Crow is producing on the anniversary of the Black Wall Street Massacre ”.
A race kill in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as of May 31, 1921, it left the city’s thriving black community in ruins while a white mob burned buildings and killed some 300 people.
“Our voices need to be heard today and forever,” Bledsoe said in a statement.
The Texas bill would ban Texans from using 24-hour polling stations or voting in polling stations located in parking lots and garages. It would also prohibit the use of mobile units or temporary structures as polling stations.
The legislation also sets new requirements for Texans who want to vote by mail and would prohibit election officials from sending unsolicited email voting requests to voters. It would also make it difficult to eliminate observers from disturbing votes.
Florida, Georgia and Arizona also approved new voting restrictions in recent months.
New York University’s Brennan Justice Center, which monitors voting legislation nationwide, said at least 14 states across the country had enacted 22 laws restricting access to voting between January 1 and May 14 this year, while dozens more worked through state legislatures.