In the months following November’s presidential election, a number of GOP-led states have pushed for new election integrity laws meant to prevent voter fraud.
This week, Texas enacted one such bill after Democrats attempted to block the measure.
“Limits the options”
Among the measures included in the new state law is a ban on drive-through and 24-hour voting as well as stricter rules for absentee ballots.
These provisions were expanded ahead of last year’s election due to the COVID-19 pandemic and many Democrats want to see them extended to future elections.
For her part, Vice President Kamala Harris lamented the new Texas law as one that “limits the options that enabled a historic number of Texans, especially citizens of color, to vote safely in our last election.”
In reality, the law mostly rolls back measures that were supposed to be enacted on a temporary basis to make voting safer and more convenient. The law includes ID requirements for mail-in ballots, a ban on distributing unsolicited absentee ballots, and restrictions on ballot drop boxes.
Of course, some progressive opponents of the law portray it as a sinister campaign to prevent minorities from voting and rooted in the claim that the 2020 election was fraudulent.
“Both Democrats and Republicans agree”
In addition to the partisan backlash, the passage of the bill was also hindered by the decision of Texas Democrats to flee the state in July as part of an effort to deny a quorum in the state legislature needed to pass partisan bills.
GOP lawmakers were successful in advancing the measure last week in a special session and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott subsequently signed it into law.
He called the new effort a “paradigm” that will make voting easier and cheating more difficult, adding that its expansion of early voting hours makes the law more progressive than restrictions on the books in President Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware.
“One area that makes it harder to cheat concerns mail-in ballots,” Abbott said. “This is an area where both Democrats and Republicans agree has been the easiest way to cheat in the election process. The law that I’m about to sign fixes that problem.”
Although the development represents a clear victory for Texans concerned about election integrity, Democrats in D.C. are working to circumvent state voting laws with proposals such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would empower the Justice Department to prevent states from passing their own election-related restrictions.