Texas Republicans Reveal Bills of Far-Reaching Voting Restrictions

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In their 2nd effort to walk a sweeping elections overhaul, Republican lawmakers followed the wide outlines of the first, including a wide scope of measures to bounds voting access.

Dade Phelan, the talker  of the Texas House of Representatives and a Republican, gaveled successful  the opening  of the Legislature’s peculiar   league   successful  Austin connected  Thursday.
Credit...Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images

Nick Corasaniti

July 8, 2021, 4:23 p.m. ET

Republicans successful the Texas Legislature connected Thursday afloat unveiled their plans to overhaul the state’s predetermination apparatus, outlining a raft of projected caller restrictions connected voting entree that would beryllium among the astir far-reaching predetermination laws passed this year.

The G.O.P. bills, which volition beryllium debated successful the coming days during the Legislature’s peculiar session, mostly lucifer those from the Republicans’ archetypal effort to walk a sweeping voting bill, which failed successful the past legislative league aft Democrats staged a late-night walkout.

Among galore caller changes and restrictions to the state’s electoral process, some bills would prohibition 24-hour voting and drive-through voting; prohibit predetermination officials from proactively sending retired absentee ballots to voters who person not requested them; adhd caller elector recognition requirements for voting by mail; bounds third-party ballot collection; summation the transgression penalties for predetermination workers who tally afoul of regulations; bounds what assistance tin beryllium provided to voters; and greatly grow the authorization and autonomy of partisan canvass watchers.

But the caller bills bash not see 2 of the astir contentious provisions from the erstwhile iteration. There is nary longer a regulation connected Sunday voting (it tin present statesman astatine 9 a.m.) and determination is nary proviso making it easier to overturn an election.

The Republican bills are the archetypal caller pieces of voting authorities to beryllium introduced by a authorities legislature since the Supreme Court’s determination past week to uphold voting restrictions successful Arizona, a ruling that gave states greater latitude to enact voting limits.

Texas follows respective different large battleground states controlled by Republicans that person passed important overhauls of their predetermination laws and enacted caller voting restrictions this year. Since January, astatine slightest 22 bills to marque voting much hard person been signed into instrumentality successful 14 states, portion of a broad, Republican-led propulsion aft the 2020 predetermination to rein successful voting access.

Since the failed effort to walk the authorities during the outpouring session, Republican leaders successful the Legislature person signaled an accelerated docket for the voting bills successful the peculiar session. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who besides serves arsenic president of the Senate successful Texas, acceptable a committee proceeding connected that chamber’s measure for Saturday.

Though the peculiar league of the Legislature volition instrumentality spot successful a condensed 30-day period, the legislative process remains the same, with the bills needing to upwind their mode done each enclosure successful the hopes that 1 of the 2 tin beryllium agreed upon. If neither enclosure tin hold connected a bill, past it is apt to spell to a league committee, wherever the last details of the authorities would beryllium hashed retired down closed doors by a prime sheet of lawmakers.

In a imaginable effort to appease immoderate Democrats, the House measure includes 2 provisions that are wide priorities: 1 for curing rejected absentee ballots and different that would marque it nary longer a transgression to record a provisional ballot from a elector who was unknowingly ineligible to ballot (known arsenic the Crystal Mason provision, aft a Texas elector who was sentenced to 5 years successful prison for voting provisionally successful 2016 erstwhile she was connected supervised merchandise for a national conviction). The Senate mentation besides includes a curing provision.

Nonetheless, the bills were swiftly denounced by Democrats, civilian rights groups and voting rights advocates.

“There’s nary uncertainty this is going to beryllium a elector suppression session,” said Sarah Labowitz, the argumentation and advocacy manager astatine the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas.

Republicans and their allies defended the bills, known arsenic S.B. 1 successful the State Senate and H.B. 3 successful the State House, saying that they were indispensable to enactment up predetermination information and falsely arguing that they did not see immoderate caller restrictions.

“In Texas elections, we privation to marque definite it is casual to ballot and hard to cheat,” State Senator Bryan Hughes, a Republican from East Texas who wrote the Senate version, said successful a connection connected Thursday. “Senate Bill 1 does conscionable that by making definite Texans tin formed their votes with assurance that they’ll beryllium counted and the results volition beryllium reported accurately.”

Mr. Hughes added that “Texans bash not backmost down from a combat oregon fly from responsibility.”

Other Republican-aligned groups attacked the Democratic criticisms.

“There is going to beryllium a batch of hyperbole, a batch of rhetoric, the aforesaid benignant of worldly that we heard before, that the provisions of this portion of authorities are restrictive, are trying to marque it harder to ballot successful Texas,” said Jason Snead, the manager of the Honest Elections Project, a blimpish voting group. “If you look astatine the existent measure text, you get a precise antithetic representation of what you’re seeing, and that the policies are acold much mundane and mainstream.”

Mr. Snead noted that the bills adhd an other hr of mandatory aboriginal voting during weekdays, stretching from 8 hours to 9 hours for counties that clasp aboriginal in-person voting earlier the last week of an predetermination cycle.

Democrats, however, whitethorn again effort to either interruption quorum oregon find different legislative maneuver to artifact a Republican voting measure from passing.

“Every enactment is connected the table,” State Representative Armando Walle, a Democrat from Houston, said astatine a quality league connected Thursday morning.

He declined to springiness examples.

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