By: Katelyn Wescott
This past month, the state of Texas passed a voting bill in the House of Representatives that placed multiple restrictions on voting. The bill was passed mainly on party lines, with Republican voters voting for the bill, while Democrats against. The bill now waits in the Senate, with some amendments made to soften some of the harsh restrictions in the bill. The bill has already gone through the Senate once, meaning this time around the bill will face a conference committee, meaning select legislators will discuss then vote on the bill.
Once the bill is done in the Senate, it then goes back to both chambers where a final vote will be made.
Now there are multiple components of this new legislation. One portion of the bill prevents election officials from sending out absentee ballots. As well, the bill gives more power to partisan poll watchers, giving them more access to voters, and more difficult for election officials to remove watchers for misconduct. The bill also sets harsher penalties for election officials who give help to voters that are deemed to violate established rules.
Republican legislators are very much in support of the bill, but in contrast, Democrats have created amendments to the bill in order to make these new restrictions less harsh. Democrats added the requirement for judges to tell those convicted of crimes that their voting rights have been taken away. Democrats also took away restrictions they deemed unnecessary, like the drive-in voting ban, reducing the number of polls, and allowing partisan poll watchers to film and take photos of voters.
Though Democrats amended the bill this way, these changes could always be reversed during its time in the Senate.
Many are against this new possible voting law, because it could possibly restrict voting for certain demographics, specifically poorer voters and people of color.. Because of the restrictions on areas such as mail-in voting, those that are unable to get to the polls in November will be unable to vote, hurting the number of voters in Texas’s upcoming elections. As well, this new legislation could inspire other states to pass similar legislation, restricting more groups of voters in a variety of locations.