Texas Lawmakers Pass Bill Restricting Voting Rights

The Texas Senate passed a sweeping bill restricting access to the vote, despite Democratic lawmakers’ repeated efforts to block the legislation. 

On Tuesday, the Republican-majority Texas Senate advanced a bill that will ban 24-hour and drive-through voting, create harsher voter ID requirements for mail-in voting and stop election officials from sending voters unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots. 

The legislation passed the state Senate with an 18-13 vote, along party lines. 

Now the bill heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who is expected to sign it into law.

Voting rights group Fair Fight Action slammed the bill as an “undemocratic attack on the freedom to vote.” Texas Democrats have called it “anti-voter,” a “voter suppression bill” and an “assault on our democracy.” 

The bill passed the Texas House last week, despite Democratic lawmakers fleeing the state for over a month in an effort to stall it. More than 50 Democrats went to Washington, D.C., to deny the Texas Legislature a quorum, without which the Republican-led state House couldn’t move forward. Eventually enough Democratic lawmakers returned for the legislative process to continue. 

Texas Democrats, other Democratic lawmakers and voting rights groups have long been urging Congress to pass legislation at the federal level to protect voting rights. 

Republicans in legislatures across the country have been pushing hundreds of bills at the state level that would restrict voting. Such efforts have already become law in several states, including Georgia, Arkansas and Arizona.  

Voter suppression efforts disproportionately disenfranchise Black, Latinx and low-income voters.

At the federal level, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act would restore voting rights protections that were stripped by the U.S. Supreme Court, allowing the Justice Department to review new changes to voting laws in states that had previous “violations.” And the For the People Act would override much of Republicans’ state-level efforts by mandating that states implement measures including early voting, no-excuse absentee ballots, and automatic and same-day voter registration. 

But the federal bills, which have passed in the Democratic-led U.S. House, face tough odds in the Senate, where Democrats have only a slim majority, Republicans oppose both bills, and key Senate Democrats refuse to back filibuster reform that would allow the legislation to advance without meeting a 60-vote threshold.

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