Tyler, Texas-Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed an electoral reform on Tuesday, adding more voting restrictions in this booming state. Democrats spent months protesting what they said were efforts to weaken minority voter turnout and maintain the increasingly eroded dominant position of the Republican Party in the state.
Abbott signed a comprehensive reform in a ceremony held in the eastern Texas city of Taylor. Last year, surrounding counties supported former President Donald Trump with a more than 2-1 advantage. But overall, the situation in Texas is much closer, with Trump leading the state by 5 1/2 percentage points, which is the weakest advantage the Republican presidential candidate has achieved here in decades.
The signing of the bill once again highlights the difficult right turn made by Texas Republicans this year, including a new state law that banned most abortions that came into effect last week.
According to the Brennan Justice Center, since the 2020 election, at least 18 states have enacted new voting restrictions, and Texas is one of them.
These laws are part of the national Republican campaign, including in Florida, Georgia and Arizona, tightening voting laws in the name of security, partly because Trump falsely claimed that the election was stolen.
Opponents did not wait for Abbott’s signature to start a lawsuit against a new Texas law called Senate Bill 1. The American Civil Liberties Union, minority rights groups, and disability advocates are part of a broad coalition that accused Republican lawmakers in Texas last week of violating the Federal Voting Rights Act and deliberately discriminating against minorities.
Some changes were directed at the Houston area. President Joe Biden brought the 1.6 million voters around him to the Houston area with a 13% advantage. During the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Harris County election officials provided 24-hour polling stations and drive-thru voting, which are illegal under the new law. The county is also trying to send mail-in ballot applications to more than 2 million registered voters, but in Texas, any election official who tries to send applications to people who don’t ask for it could face criminal charges.
Partisan opinion poll observers are also entitled to more campaigns, and judges who hinder their election may also face criminal penalties, which the Democratic Party believes may lead to intimidation of voters.
In response to the new voting restrictions of the Republican-controlled state legislatures, Congressional Democrats hoped to pass new federal voting rights protections at the federal level, but failed to overcome the opposition of Senate Republicans.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended Biden’s voting rights, saying that the president used his domineering forum and made Vice President Kamala Harris a key figure on the issue. But Psaki said the government plans to take additional but unspecified steps to address the concerns of voting rights groups. “We will say to these advocates: We stand with you,” Pasaki told reporters on Air Force One on Tuesday. “There is more and we will continue to work together.”
Abbott signed the bill 100 days after the Democrats walked out of the state capitol and temporarily blocked the measure by letting the legislature fail to reach a quorum, thus starting the summer finals. In July, more than 50 Democrats flew to Washington, DC to obstruct the bill for the second time, which led to a civil arrest warrant issued by Republicans to force the Democrats to return, although no one was forced to return in the end.
The protests did not make any major changes to the bill, which highlighted the determination of the Republicans to pass the bill and their absolute advantage in the Texas State Capitol.