AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The Texas Legislature has signed off on a sweeping GOP rewrite of election laws after months of protests by Democrats.
The nearly 75-page bill that won final approval Tuesday in both the House and Senate would ban 24-hour polling locations and empowers partisan poll watchers. It also would make it a crime for elections officials to send mail-in ballot applications to voters who don’t ask for one.
It now goes to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who has said he will sign it. Democrats twice this summer walked out on the bill to stop it from passing. That included fleeing to Washington, D.C., and refusing to come back to the state Capitol for 38 days.
“Protecting the integrity of our elections is critical in the state of Texas, which is why I made election integrity an emergency item during the 87th Legislative Session. I thank Senator Brian Hughes, Representative Andrew Murr, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker Dade Phelan for stepping up to ensure that this bill made it to the finish line during the second special session. Senate Bill 1 will solidify trust and confidence in the outcome of our elections by making it easier to vote and harder to cheat. I look forward to signing Senate Bill 1 into law, ensuring election integrity in Texas,” Abbott said in a statement.
The American Civil Liberties Union said the bill will make it harder for communities of color and individuals with disabilities to vote.
“Texans of all backgrounds and pro-voter lawmakers have fought tooth and nail for months against Texas’ voter suppression law. SB 1 will make it harder and scarier to vote and to run elections, especially for communities of color and voters with disabilities,” a statement from the ACLU of Texas said. “If lawmakers had listened, they would know that Texans want voting to be easy and accessible. The stroke of a pen can’t silence the will of the people. The ACLU of Texas will continue to fight using all available tools for a democracy that works for all of us.”