Early this morning, the Texas Senate approved Senate Bill 7, new voting restrictions in the state. The final version of the bill is not yet online for review but the original bill “banned overnight early voting hours and drive-thru early voting, while restricting how election officials handle mail voting,” according to NBC News.
In a video posted on Twitter, State Senator Bryan Hughes said the bill “is about making it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
“We had a long debate, scores of amendments were offered, and at the end of the day, the Texas Senate passed a strong election integrity bill we can be proud of,” he said, adding that “it heads to the House now for more work and election integrity bills continue to move through the process.”
The amendments introduced by Hughes included making changes to the initial bill’s language on poll watchers, voting hours, disability verification, and the number of county polling locations.
After several hours of debate, Senate Bill 7 (Election Integrity) and Senate Bill 12 (Social Media Censorship) fully passed the Texas Senate early this morning. #txlege #SB12 #SB7 @Scott_SanfordTX @BriscoeCain pic.twitter.com/HdQPc2FBy7
— Senator Bryan Hughes (@SenBryanHughes) April 1, 2021
The bill received immediate criticism from the Texas Civil Rights Project.
“SB 7 is the most dangerous threat to voting rights we’ve seen in years,” Joaquin Gonzalez, an attorney with the organization, said in a statement. “The biggest threats to election integrity are codified racist attacks on voters, unequal access to the polls, and harassment by partisan poll watchers who would seek to disrupt safe and fair elections.”
Texas already has some of the toughest voting restrictions in the United States. For instance, the state requires that a voter provide an eligible reason to vote by mail, in which case, the prospective voter must be 65 or older, have disabilities or an illness, confined to jail, or show they will be out of the county during the election.
The news out of the Texas Senate comes as the state of Georgia made headlines for an “election integrity” bill of its own after GOP lawmakers passed legislation that significantly curbs voting rights, including stricter identification requirements and a measure that makes it a misdemeanor to offer food and water to voters waiting in line.