State Watch

Texas House passes controversial voting bill

After an all-night session, the Texas state House passed a GOP-backed measure that would bar public officials from sending out mail-in ballot applications without prior requests for them and implement strict rules on the number of voting machines at polling places in major cities.

The bill was moved forward by an 81-64 vote at approximately 3 a.m. following an all-night session led by Democrats’ opposition to the proposal.

The state Senate has approved a separate measure that also limits early voting rules and bans drive-through voting.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbot (R) has expressed support for signing an election reform bill, meaning a form of the legislation is likely to become Texas law. The House bill will have to be reconciled with the Senate bill before a measure can go to Abbot’s desk for his possible signature.

Texas is one of several states that is considering or has already approved changes to voting laws after the tumultuous election of 2020, where mail-in voting skyrocketed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Former President Trump has repeatedly made baseless accusations that the presidential election was stolen from him. Those cries led to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which interrupted Congress’s largely ceremonial certification of the Electoral College results.

While no evidence has emerged of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, the complaints have led a number of GOP legislatures across the country to take steps similar to the Texas House bill.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed legislation into law on Friday that would limit voter access to absentee ballot drop boxes used by most Florida counties, implement stricter voter ID mandates for absentee voting and institute a requirement that voters who want to cast absentee ballots submit new requests every election cycle instead of every four years.

Georgia earlier this year also approved a new law on voting that sparked controversy and complaints from Democrats and President Biden. Major League Baseball moved its All-Star Game from Atlanta in protest of the new law, which critics said could suppress Democratic votes.

Biden narrowly won Georgia in the presidential race last year, and on Jan. 5, two Democrats won runoff Senate races in the state.

Tags Absentee ballot Donald Trump Early voting electoral reform Joe Biden Ron DeSantis Texas voting laws voting restrictions

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