Despite the repeated attempts of Texas Democratic lawmakers to prevent their Republican colleagues from passing a piece of extremely restrictive (and racist) new voting legislation, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into law on Tuesday.
The bill, SB1, specifically bans the establishment of early voting hours, 24-hour voting, and drive-thru voting—initiatives that proved popular among Texas voters of color during the 2020 election. The Texas legislation also increases the rules for voting-by-mail and establishes new restrictions around voter assistance, making it a felony for local election officials to send out unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots, even to voters over the age of 65 who automatically qualify as absentee voters.
At the end of May, Texas Democrats were able to successfully stop (or at least postpone) the passage of a similar bill by staging a walkout so that the state legislature would not have enough members to vote on the bill. Since then, Gov. Abbott has been forced to call two special legislative sessions in the name of so-called “election integrity” in order to give Republican lawmakers more time to pass the legislation—one of which was also stalled by Texas Democrats literally fleeing the state in an attempt to prevent the passage of the bill.
“One thing that all Texans can agree [on] and that is that we must have trust and confidence in our elections. The bill that I’m about to sign helps to achieve that goal,” said Texas Gov. Abbott before signing SB1 into law on Tuesday. “The law does, however, make it harder for fraudulent votes to be cast.” This is a perfect time for a reminder that there is no evidence to prove that any significant voter fraud occurred during the 2020 election, despite the truly desperate attempts of Republican lawmakers to claim otherwise.
Although the bill is set to go into effect three months after the end of the current special legislative session, it’s possible that it will still be caught up in the courts, as it is already facing numerous lawsuits both in federal and state district court. Most of the legal challenges to SB1 argue that the legislation will disproportionately limit the voting rights of voters of color, voters with disabilities, and other marginalized groups in the state.