After months of Democratic meltdowns and controversy, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the new election reform bill Senate Bill 1 into law on Tuesday, September 7, ensuring election integrity throughout the state of Texas. Looks like the Texas Democrats’ trip to Washington D.C was all for nothing. At least they got a good publicity stunt out of it.
A news release came from Abbott’s office talking about Senate Bill 1. The legislation will create uniform statewide voting hours, maintain and expand the voting access for registered voters that need assistance, prohibit drive-through voting, and enhance transparency by letting poll watchers observe more of the election process. It will also ban the distribution of unsolicited applications for mail-in ballots and give voters the chance to fix defective ballots.
The bill will take effect three months after the legislative session and right in time for the 2022 primary elections. But many election lawyers and Democrats are fighting back with federal lawsuits and threats to sue the state and block the bill.
Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias already said he would use the First and 14th Amendments to challenge the law. They are representing the state’s biggest teachers union, two Hispanic advocacy groups, and a retiree organization. He is accusing Texas Republicans of “limiting access to the ballot box, particularly for voters of color.” He went on to say that Senate Bill 1 limits almost every method of voting in the state.
Others have also referred to the legislation as a “voter suppression bill.” They point out how those wishing to vote via mail-in voting would be required to provide their drivers’ license number or use the last four digits of their social security number.
Democratic state Sen. Cesar Blanco points out how there is “no evidence” to support the notion that widespread voter fraud is a problem in the state and that the bill takes Texas down a “very dangerous slippery slope.” He said that the narrative is “dangerous” to their democracy.
Even President Joe Biden and his administration have said that they support the efforts to overturn the Texas election laws. “We would say to these advocates: we stand with you. There’s more we’re going to keep working on together,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
But Republicans, including the governor, have continued to point out that these reforms restore public faith in the election process. The laws will ensure that specific ballot numbers match and verify with the voters’ records, which is an upgrade from the current signature matching procedure. Voters can even correct any technical errors online. The legislation will also increase the number of partisan poll watchers and give the states more control of their local voting operations.
“One thing that all Texans can agree [on] and that is that we must have trust and confidence in our elections. The bill that I’m about to sign helps to achieve that goal. The law does however make it harder for fraudulent votes to be cast,” Gov. Abbott said at the signing ceremony.
Sen. Bryan Hughes emphasized how no fraud is okay and that’s why Senate Bill 1 makes it “easy to vote and hard to cheat.” It’s another common-sense piece of legislation that makes the voting process function better. When a large number of people are saying they don’t trust the election process, it’s time to guarantee that those elections are more secure.