Republican lawmakers in the Lone Star State were moving closer Sunday to imposing a slew of new restrictions on voting until Democrats staged a late-night walkout that left the House short of a quorum.
That move effectively stalled a vote on Senate Bill 7, killing it for this year’s legislative session.
The state Senate had voted early Sunday to adopt a conference version of the bill, which contained provisions that would do the following:
- Ban after-hours voting.
- Prohibit ballot drop boxes and drive-through voting centers.
- Mandate all weekday early voting take place sometime between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., though draft language would further limit Sunday early voting to a maximum between the hours of 1 p.m. and 9 p.m.
- Make it illegal for elections officials to send applications to vote by mail to people who did not request one.
- Bar counties from helping facilitate the distribution of unsolicited ballot requests.
- Require voters requesting absentee ballot to provide their driver’s license number or Social Security number on both their request for a ballot and their return envelope containing their ballot.
- Impose $1,000-a-day fines on local election officials who do not follow prescribed procedures to update their voter rolls, and criminal penalties on election workers who obstruct poll-watchers.
The bill would also make it easier to overturn an election, allowing courts to throw out results if enough ballots were cast illegally that it could have made a difference – despite the fact that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Texas or any other US state.
Rooted in conspiracy. The measure is just one of many across the country that seizes on former President Donald Trump’s lies, dating back to 2016, claiming rampant voter fraud and faulty election security.
‘Wrong and un-American.’ That’s what President Joe Biden called the measure in a Saturday afternoon statement. “It’s part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year – and often disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans.”
Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group started by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, similarly called Senate Bill 7 “an extreme bill” that “attacks the freedom to vote from almost every angle imaginable” while empowering partisan poll watchers and making it easier to overturn elections.
Federal voting rights legislation is unlikely. A Democratic bill called the For the People Act that would make major changes to laws governing campaigns, voting and government ethics faces steep odds in the Senate.
And it’s not just Texas. In all, fourteen states have enacted 22 new laws making it harder to vote. See for yourself:
Overall, since the election, the Brennan Center has identified at least 389 bills introduced in 48 states that include provisions that would restrict voting access. The only two states where lawmakers have not yet introduced a restrictive voting bill are Delaware and Vermont. Read more here.