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The Controversial Texas Voting Access Bill: Its Effects on the Coming Mid-Terms

Elections & Politics Policy Brief #36 | By: Inijah Quadri | September 22, 2022

Header photo taken from: Evan L'Roy/The Texas Tribune

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Texas leans on new voting law to reject thousands of ballot applications. Confusing ID requirements and ban on soliciting ballots are inhibiting would-be voters and voting rights advocates.

Photo taken from: Bob Daemmrich / ZUMA Press Wire / REX / Shutterstock

Policy Summary

The Republican-dominated Texas Legislature on August 19th passed an election bill that Democrats and advocates say will restrict voting rights for minorities.

Republicans inflicted a crushing defeat on Democrats, who fought for months against what they saw as a brazen attempt to disenfranchise minorities, including African-Americans, and other voters who are more likely to vote Democrat.

Once in force, which is expected at the upcoming mid-term elections, the nearly 75-page bill, will notably limit the hours of voting, prohibit drive-through voting, require new ID requirements, and will give increased powers to partisan observers.

Policy Analysis

In a statement released minutes after the bill passed, Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican governor, said he had looked forward to signing a piece of legislation that would make it easier to vote, make fraud harder, and ensure the integrity of elections in Texas. But, did this bill make voting any easier? Take a look below.

The Bill Limits the Hours of Voting

The Bill limits the hours of voting to between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., instead of the 24-hour period that was in place before. The reasoning behind this change is that it would already cover the usual times people go to the polls, and it would also reduce the potential for fraud.

Postal Voting Changes

The law establishes a new procedure for voters to make changes to their mail-in votes if they are at risk of being rejected due to a technological problem. A new online ballot tracker, authorized by the legislature, would allow voters to make these changes electronically. If a voter makes a mistake on their application for a mail-in ballot, they will be able to fix it under the new law.

The Bill Prohibits Drive-Through Voting

The bill prohibits drive-through voting. This prohibition came about as a result of concerns about the security and integrity of election processes. As such, it is now illegal for Texas voters to cast their ballots through a drive-through window. This restriction prevents individuals from voting outside of conventional polling locations.

The Bill Requires New ID Requirements

Under the new bill, voters would need to provide one of several forms of identification in order to cast a mail-in ballot. These include a driver’s license number or the last four digits of their SSN, rather than the previous name and address on their voter registration card. 


How Does Systematic Voter Suppression Work?

Chart taken from: Fair Fight

(click or tap to enlargen)

This change is intended to prevent voter fraud and make the voting process more secure. Critics argue that the new requirements may disenfranchise some voters, particularly those who cannot easily obtain required identification documents.

The Bill Gives Increased Powers to Partisan Observers

This bill also gives partisan observers increased powers during elections. This would include the ability to monitor voting procedures freely. The only restriction would be within the polling booth itself, in which they are not allowed.

How African-Americans and Other Minorities Will Be Impacted by New Texas Voting Law

Research shows that the racial turnout disparity widened when states passed tough voter ID laws. In a similar vein, according to the findings of yet another study, the proportion of Black and Latino voters in Texas who would be disenfranchised in the absence of the state’s “Reasonable Impediments Declaration” (a court-ordered remedy that allows voters who do not have proper IDs to participate) is disproportionately high.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Texas voting access bill passed recently may have serious consequences on the midterm elections. The bill allows new requirements and procedures, which we have shown you above.

As you may understand, these changes could affect many voters who are not able to (or who may struggle to) meet these requirements. Whatever the case may be, it is best for voters in Texas to be aware of these changes and make sure they are, if need be, prepared to  work around them and cast their ballots when the mid-terms come.

Engagement Resources​

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