With a Republican majority, the Texas State House approved this Friday (27) a controversial electoral reform bill that makes it difficult to access the vote. The text, which has replicas in other US states, had been the target of constant disputes.
Two weeks ago, the content received approval from the State Senate, a chamber in which Republicans are also the largest share. However, as the House sews up changes, senators will have to revise it again. The bill will then be passed on to Governor Greg Abbott, a strong supporter of reform.
Overall, the bill rolls back measures implemented by local authorities last year to attract more voters, such as drive-thru voting and 24-hour polling stations. power of party election observers, increases civil and criminal penalties for electoral fraud, and facilitates the annulment of elections in cases of suspected fraud.
Democratic lawmakers argue the reform discourages voting, especially for blacks and Latinos. They tried to implement amendments to weaken the content, but failed. In the hemicycle, after a sitting of more than 12 hours, the approval was given by 80 votes to 41.
An estimate from the Texas Civil Rights Project showed that in Harris County, Texas, which adopted the drive-thru system and 24-hour polling stations, the majority of the 127,000 voters who used these alternatives were black, Hispanic and Asian.
The new taxes further discourage voting in a state recognized as one of the most rigorous and with the lowest participation in the country, according to information from Britain’s The Guardian. Texas is one of the few states to restrict postal voting to people with disabilities, people over the age of 65, and people outside their electoral domicile.
Republican attempts to pass the bill had failed for months over a Democratic strategy to dump the state legislature so that there was not the necessary quorum of 100 MPs. That’s what lawmakers did in May, just before heading to the capital, Washington, where they staged a series of anti-reform protests.
Earlier this month, to reverse the Democratic exodus, the Legislature authorized police operations and possible arrests of absent Democrats to block votes.
The approval follows a series of similar bills in other parts of the United States aimed at restricting access to voting. The wave of reforms was picked up by Republican lawmakers after Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 presidential election.
An investigation by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University found that, from November to March, 361 restricted-vote bills were introduced in 47 of the 50 U.S. states. Texas led, with 29 such projects. Next come Georgia (25) and Arizona (23).
Trump party lawmakers were encouraged by a base that adopted the former president’s unproven claims that there was fraud in last year’s election. However, the Republican attorney himself, William Barr, dismissed the theory last December.
Supporters of the proposal say there is a need to strengthen security during elections. The text of the measure specifies that the changes “are not intended to undermine the right to free vote”, but are necessary to “prevent fraud in the electoral process”. In last year’s election, however, there were no major allegations of fraud in Texas, and Republicans retained their three-decade tenure in both the state legislature and executive. .