Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a new election integrity bill on Tuesday following a prolonged controversy by state Democrats that included fleeing the state for Washington, D.C.
“Senate Bill 1 will solidify trust and confidence in the outcome of our elections by making it easier to vote and harder to cheat. I look forward to signing Senate Bill 1 into law, ensuring election integrity in Texas,” Abbott said in a statement, according to Fox News.
“Bottom line: it’s easier to vote & harder to cheat,” Abbott tweeted alongside a video of the signing.
He added, “Election integrity is now LAW in Texas.
▪️ Ensures every eligible voter gets to vote
▪️ Adds more hours to vote
▪️ Makes it harder for fraudulent votes to be cast
▪️ Makes ballot harvesting a 3rd degree felony.
“Senate Bill 1 creates uniform statewide voting hours, maintains and expands voting access for registered voters that need assistance, prohibits drive-through voting, and enhances transparency by authorizing poll watchers to observe more aspects of the election process,” a news release from Abbott’s office said.
“The bill also bans the distribution of unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots and gives voters with a defective mail-in ballot the opportunity to correct the defect,” it added.
The law is now official, but legal challenges are already in progress. The Texas Tribune reported, “Abbott’s signature Tuesday drew three more lawsuits that also argue the changes to elections in SB 1 are unlawful because they will disproportionately burden voters of color and voters with disabilities.
“SB 1 is an arduous law designed to limit Tejanos’ ability to exercise their full citizenship,” said Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO of Voto Latino, which is a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed in Austin on Tuesday. “Not only are we filing suit to protect the right to vote for all people of color, and the additional 250,000 young Latino Tejanos who will reach voting age in 2022, but to protect every Texan’s right to vote.”
The sad response to voter integrity is based on the faulty assumption that certain groups of people are unable to obtain a photo ID, register and show up to vote. However, the bill does not include one change that makes it more difficult for any group of people to register or vote. Instead, its provision make it more difficult for people to vote illegally.
Democrats like the current system because they know how to work the current system. With a new law in place, some Democrats will no longer have an advantage in some areas, such as mail in ballots that have historically been stronger among Democrats than Republicans.
The interesting twist in Texas is that the changes are not yet done. The next step on the state’s agenda is redrawing the lines of congressional districts. Depending on how the lines are defined, Republicans may gain new advantages to better their odds in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.