The Texas Legislature Sends a Complete GOP Voting Invoice to the Governor | COVID-19
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The GOP-controlled Texas legislature passed a major overhaul of the state’s electoral laws on Tuesday, tightening already tough electoral rules and giving the Democrats a month-long struggle over what they believed was a brazen attempt a painful defeat inflicted incapacitate minorities and other democratically-minded voters.
Republican Governor Greg Abbott said he would sign the bill, the latest in a national GOP campaign, to create new barriers to voting in the name of safety. The efforts that resulted in new restrictions in Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and elsewhere were fueled in part by former President Donald Trump’s false claims about a stolen election.
The Texas Democrats fought the legislation for months, arguing the bill was tailored to make it harder for young people, racial and ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities – all Democratic-minded voters – to vote, just as they see demographics increasing too their favor postpones party. The bill specifically targets Democratic strongholds, including Harris County, Houston, and tightens the rules in a state that is already considered one of the toughest places to vote.
The Texas legislature sparked a heated summer with Democratic strikes, Republicans threatened arrest, Abbott vetoed the paychecks of thousands of ordinary employees when the law did not reach him sooner, and allegations of racism and voter suppression.
“The emotional reasons for not voting is because people have trouble voting because of their skin color and ethnicity, and I belong to that class of people,” said Democrat Garnet Coleman, a state official who serves on the Capitol helped end a 38-day stalemate earlier this month.
Even the final vote didn’t escape a round of confrontation after the Senate Republicans sank at the last minute one of the few areas of a bipartisan settlement: efforts to protect voters with criminal convictions from prosecution if they didn’t realize they weren’t eligible to vote on a ballot . It was taken after a backlash to the arrests of two Texas voters, both black, which heightened criticism in a broader battle over election restrictions that opponents say disproportionately influence people of color.
Texas will cap election times and partisan election observers under the nearly 75-page bill known as Senate Act 1, cap the House and Senate, despite months of protests and escalating brinkness.
“Senate Bill 1 will build confidence in the outcome of our elections by making it harder to vote and cheat. I look forward to signing Senate 1 bill to ensure the integrity of the Texas election, ”Abbott said in a statement minutes after the bill was passed.
It is unlikely that this sharpness will end with Abbott’s signature.
The Texas Capitol will immediately embark on yet another fierce election map battle that could secure Republican electoral advantages for the next decade. Texas has added more than 4 million new residents since 2010, more than any other state, with more than nine out of ten new residents being colored.
Democrats criticized the Voting Bill as an attempt to stifle the turnout of an emerging and more diverse electorate as Republicans, used to winning electoral victories in America’s largest red state, are slowly losing ground.
Texas Republicans defended the bill in the same words the GOP used in more than a dozen other states that passed restrictive electoral laws that year: calling the changes practical safeguards, but denying that they were unfounded by Trump’s Claims are fueled that he lost his re-election because of widespread electoral fraud.
When the bill was finally approved in the Senate on Tuesday, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick the hammer on the podium. Days after last year’s election, Patrick offered a $ 1 million reward to support Trump’s unsubstantiated claims about election irregularities.
A provision of the bill sought to make it clear that a person must know that they are voting illegally in order to be prosecuted. But even though it was adopted by the House of Representatives, it was rejected by Senate negotiators when the bill was finalized over the weekend.
Texas law prohibits individuals on parole, probation, or supervised release from voting. But both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have expressed their discomfort in the case of Crystal Mason, who was sentenced to five years in prison in 2018 for casting a preliminary vote in the 2016 presidential election while on parole. She said she did not know she was not eligible to vote at the time.
Her preliminary vote was not counted and her case is now on appeal.
After the full voting law was passed, the House of Representatives passed a resolution that “a person should not be criminally imprisoned for an innocent mistake.” It passed 119-4.
“You shouldn’t be jailed for five years under these circumstances,” said Republican representative Dustin Burrows.
Texas already has some of the toughest electoral laws in the country, and many of the most highly controversial changes that now apply to Abbott are bans on expanded voting options that were imposed in the largest county of Texas that Houston is and is part of during the COVID-19 pandemic , introduced main source of democratic votes.
Harris County last year offered 24-hour polling stations and drive-thru voting, and attempted to send postal votes to 2 million registered voters. All of this would now be forbidden with Abbott’s signature, and election officials who send ballot applications to voters who do not apply could be prosecuted.
Republicans said the tightened rules prevail in powers local election officials never had, and accused critics of exaggerating the effects. They also stressed that throughout Texas, polling stations must now be open at least an hour longer during the two-week early voting, and that in more counties, polling stations must be open for at least 12 hours.
Mason’s illegal election arrest isn’t the only one to attract criticism from Democrats and constituencies. In July, Hervis Rogers was arrested for illegal voting for casting a suspended vote after waiting in line for more than six hours during the 2020 presidential primary.
The cases caught national attention and angry critics, who viewed both as overzealous attempts by Republicans to stand firm on rare occasions of wrong elections. The Brennan Center for Justice rated the 2017 election fraud risk at 0.00004% to 0.0009% based on studies of past elections.
Acacia Coronado is a corps member of the Associated Press / Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a not-for-profit national utility that places journalists on local newsrooms to cover undercover issues.
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