Texas GOP introduce slew of voting restriction bills following 2020 elections

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Republican lawmakers in Texas have moved to introduce laws to tighten ID requirements, limit early voting and enhance consequences for errors.

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NBC News reported more than two dozen GOP-sponsored elections bills are under consideration in the Legislature. The changes could likely occur this year as the moves have seen support from Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

“We must pass laws to prevent election officials from jeopardizing the election process,” Gov. Abbott said Monday according to the report. He continued to urge lawmakers to move the bills quickly “to my desk so I can sign it.”

According to KHOU11, Abbot and other GOP leaders say the laws are to prevent voting fraud.

“Doesn’t matter what party you’re in, it doesn’t matter your party affiliation, what matters is our collective efforts to agree and to achieve the goal of ensuring we promote integrity in the election process,” Abbott said according to the news outlet in reference to the Harris County mail-in ballot process. The outlet reported the governor accused county elections offices of attempting to send unsolicited applications to millions of voters who would not be eligible to vote by mail.

Greg Abbott thegrio.com
Texas Governor Greg Abbott participates in a news briefing outside the West Wing after an Oval Office announcement with President Trump March 24, 2017 at the White House in Washington, DC. Charter Communications announced that the company is opening a call center in McAllen, Texas, creating 600 jobs. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

NBC News reported Republican State Sen. Bryan Hughes introduced the 27-page bill with several new restrictions and penalties. The laws have been empowered by the 2020 election.

“This was already in process, but then the 2020 election was so in the national spotlight, and so many people have questions, so many people have concerns,” he said to NBC News. “I would say that has raised the profile of the issue.”

He continued, “It’s important that the system be fair, but it’s equally important that people know it’s fair, so they’ll participate, so they’ll vote.” 

Changes proposed by the bills seek to limit early voting to certain hours or to standardize hours across the state, banning tents and garages for early voting, and take aim at where and when voters cast their ballots before Election Day.

People Go To The Polls On First Day Of Early Voting In Texas
AUSTIN, TX – OCTOBER 13: I voted stickers and other forms line a table at a ballot drop off location on October 13, 2020 in Austin, Texas. The first day of voting saw voters waiting hours in line to cast their votes. Gov. Greg Abbott announced earlier this year that he would expand early voting for the election beginning on Oct. 13. Mail in voting began on Oct. 8 and has been part of a legal battle after Gov. Abbott declared each county may only have 1 mail in ballot drop off center, the ruling was later struck down in federal court but then the decision was upheld when a stay was ruled in the overturning. (Photo by Sergio Flores/Getty Images)

State Rep. Jared Patterson, a Republican from Denton County, introduced one of the bills attempting to limit early voting hours to only include the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

“Momma always said nothing good happens after midnight,” he tweeted. “Momma always said nothing good happens after midnight. That includes at polling places. I filed HB 2293 because of irregularities in Harris County polling hours of operation and the opportunity for voter fraud when no one is looking.”

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According to KHOU11, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the laws are a direct response to voter turnout in the 2020 election. Harris county is the third largest county in the country and the news outlet reported the area had the highest voter turnout in the state.

“All of those were used by all voters both Republican, Democrats, Independents, folks from all walks of life who are eligible voters took advantage of those policies,” Hidalgo responded according to the report.

She addressed the GOP proposed laws on Twitter, writing “We’re incredibly proud of having shattered turnout records in 2020. That’s how this beautiful system is supposed to work. 

Hildalgo continued, “Laws designed to hold on to power by suppressing votes is the stuff of failed states, not the greatest democracy in the world.”

Texas is not the only state that has moved to tighten voting laws since the 2020 election. theGrio reported the Georgia GOP-controlled House passed restrictions on voting that limit access to local residents.

The Georgia House recently passed the controversial measure #HB531 that will reduce early weekend voting, limit polling places, cut back on drop boxes, and put a stop to food and drinks being given to those standing in line, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. It passed in a 97-72 vote.

“Our goal in this bill is to make sure that Georgia’s election results get back quickly and accurately,” said state Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem. “The way we begin to restore confidence in our voting system is by passing this bill. There are many commonsense measures improving elections in this bill.”

During the two-hour debate on the bill, Democratic lawmakers argued that their Republican counterparts were not worried about election security, their stated reason for putting the bill forward. Georgia Democrats believe the effort has more to do with suppressing the vote.

Since the election, Republicans have put forward 150 measures to restrict voting in various states insisting they are protecting ballot integrity. The Supreme Court may now make it harder to challenge possible racial discrimination as the true motivator.

This article contains additional reporting from theGrio’s Stephanie Guerilus.

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