The bill limited ballot boxes by email, early voting and automatic access and adds to the national debate on voting rights.
Texas on Friday joined other Republican-controlled states to advance a series of new voting restrictions, challenging opposition from many of the state’s businesses and joining a fierce national debate over voting rights.
The Austin State House of Representatives voted largely in line with party lines to pass legislation Friday after hours of debate, Reuters news agency reported.
Members of the Texas House and state Senate, which passed its own vote-imposing bill last month, will now work to reconcile the two bills before sending a finalized version to Republican Gov. Greg. Abbott.
Abbott has indicated he will sign the legislation and tweeted on his support on Friday.
This bill will help us ensure confidence in the outcome of our elections.
One step closer to my desktop and turn it into TX law.
– Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 7, 2021
Texas Democrats have virtually no way to stop the bill in the Republican-controlled legislature and warned of the legal struggles ahead, The Associated Press reported.
“You have your vote, you have your majority. But guess what? I look forward to seeing you in federal court, “Democratic State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said before a final procedural vote Friday afternoon that sent the bill to the Senate. He added that” the history is on our side “.
Other states in Georgia, Florida and Iowa have enacted Voting booths with Republican support after former Republican President Donald Trump falsely claimed his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 election was the result of a massive election fraud.
Ohio and Michigan Republicans are also pushing forward with revisions to various election procedures.
The Texas House bill gives more access to election officials in favor of election ballots and the bars of sending unwanted ballot requests to voters, among other restrictions.
The Senate bill includes limits on early voting and would ban 24-hour polling stations and automatic voting, both changes that Harris County – home to Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States – will do last year during the coronavirus pandemic.
Republican sponsors of the bills said they are meant to prevent voter fraud while strengthening electoral integrity and public confidence in voting.
“This bill is about protecting voters,” Republican Rep. Briscoe Cain said during the chamber debate.
Democrats and civil rights groups argue that there is no evidence of widespread manipulation of the vote and argue that such legislation is a burden or discourages color voters, as well as the elderly and disabled.
Proponents of voting rights said Texas already has some of the highest barriers to voting in any state.
“In short, this bill is nothing more than the suppression of voters,” first-term lawyer and Democrat Jasmine Crockett told the House.
On May 5, dozens of companies, including American Airlines Group Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. and Microsoft Corp., urged lawmakers to reject any bill that would restrict access to the polls.
Mail voting and early voting in general increased during the 2020 election as voters tried to avoid ballot queues in the midst of the pandemic.
The Texas vote came a day after Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new law making it harder for voters to vote by mail or use ballot boxes.
In March, Georgia passed a Republican-backed law that included new restrictions, provoking reactions from major U.S. corporations and pushing Major League Baseball to move its Atlanta All-Star Game in protest. Delta Air Lines exploded Georgia’s new law as “unacceptable.”
More than three months after Biden’s inauguration, Trump has continued to claim that the election was stolen. The courts have dismissed these claims in more than 60 lawsuits challenging the results.
“We’re seeing the strong effect of President Trump’s big lie. We’re seeing the Republican Party do its best to support him and his lies,” said Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections for the common cause, which advocates broad access for voters.