Texas Voting Law Signed Amid National Wave of Restrictions
(Bloomberg) -- Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed one of the nation’s most aggressive laws curbing access to the ballot, joining a wave of such restrictions enacted after former President Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen.
The legislature passed the measure last month after an exodus from the state by Democratic lawmakers during the first of two special sessions. After the walkout sputtered, Republican lawmakers passed the bill without delay.
Republicans have spent months raising doubts about the 2020 election, which experts say was one of the nation’s most secure. Now, supporters of new state laws say too many voters have lost faith in voting systems, and must be reassured.
“We must have trust and confidence in our elections,” Abbott said in a signing ceremony in Tyler, Texas. “The bill that I’m about to sign helps to achieve that goal. It ensures that every eligible voter will have the opportunity to vote.”
At least 18 states have passed laws that make it harder to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. Even before Tuesday, Texas was the most difficult state in which to vote, according to an index formulated by Northern Illinois University.
Critics of the Texas law have already said they will challenge it in court, claiming it is meant to disenfranchise Democratic and minority voters.
“This law is unconstitutional and anti-democratic,” the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted on Tuesday after Abbott signed the bill. “Texas -- we’ll see you in court. Again.”
Beto O’Rourke, a former Democratic U.S. representative from El Paso, said in a statement that the governor’s priorities are misplaced.
“Governor Abbott is restricting the freedom to vote for millions of Texans. Instead of working on issues that actually matter, like protecting school kids from Covid or fixing our failing electrical grid, Abbott is focused on rigging our elections and implementing extreme, right-wing policies,” he said in a statement.
The Texas law ends drive-thru voting, implemented by Harris County to facilitate socially distanced voting in Democrat-dominated Houston during the pandemic. It further limits mail-in voting and gives more power to partisan poll watchers, among other things.
It was passed along party lines in the state Senate and mostly along party lines in the House, with four Democrats voting for it.
Democrats, in the minority in both chambers of the legislature, twice attempted to stymie a vote on the bill by walking out and denying the quorum for a floor vote.
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