Last night Democrats from the Texas House left the capital building forcing Republican House Speaker Date Phelan to adjourn the House for the night at 10:45 p.m. before the midnight deadline required to pass Senate Bill 7, which Republicans say brings new voting requirements to the state to ensure election integrity and Democrats say is a clear effort to limit black and brown voters from going to the polls. Gov. Greg Abbott has said he intends to call for a special session of the Texas Legislature in order to get new voting requirements passed. Critics say the Governor failed to call for a special session when Hurricane Harvey hit, after mass shootings in the state, or the coronavirus pandemic, but because he’s willing to call for one on this issue, he is playing politics.
In S.B. 7, it will limit mail-in-voting by requiring voters to supply more information about themselves and why they need a mail-in ballot, it will prevent local election officials from sending absentee ballots to anyone who did not request one, and it will prevent election workers from participating or helping groups who encourage Texans to vote by mail.
It will also prohibit drive-through voting and after-hours voting as was done in Harris County during the 2020 election which Democrats say helped black and latino voters who otherwise couldn’t vote due to work hours and transportation issues.
S.B. 7 also requires all weekday voting to take place between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., barred 24-hour voting like was done in Houston, and prohibit voting on Sunday until after 1 p.m. Black church-goers often vote Sunday morning during church organized “souls to the polls” efforts.
It would also impose fines on election officials, made it easier for courts to overturn election results, and allow partisan polls watchers to get closer to the voters.
“None of these measures will actually stop supposed electron fraud, but what it does do is make it harder for minorities to vote. The specific limitations put into S. B. 7 will specifically hit polling locations where black and hispanic voters voted but will have virtually no effect on polling locations in the suburbs and rural areas where mostly white voters cast their votes,” says Amanda Schultz from San Marcos.
Republicans say “this has nothing to do with limiting voting, but instead is to ensure voting fraud does not happen like it did in the 2020 election” according Randy Wade of Fort Worth.
Though no actual fraud has been uncovered yet, former President Trump continues to maintain there was widespread fraud and Trump supporters have continued to push for changes in voting laws to fix the voting system problems as Trump sees it. Many changes in Florida’s and Georgia’s new election laws and in Texas’ proposed bill do actually address integrity weak points without limiting accessibility to voting, but have created controversy because they also contain measures that are more controversial.