Gov. Greg Abbott Tuesday signed Texas’ election reform bill into law, ending a monthslong political fight over the controversial legislation.
Abbott, a Republican, traveled to Tyler, Texas, to sign SB 1, which repeals many of the voting measures that large cities in the state implemented amid the pandemic and overhauls the state’s mail-in voting and polling-place systems.
SB 1 also bars election officials from sending unsolicited mail-in ballot applications to voters, threatening jail time if they do so.
The bill cleared the state Legislature last week in its second special session. Democrats originally let the regular session expire in May, temporarily killing the bill, when they quietly left the capital in Austin and fled the state to Washington, D.C., after Abbott called the first special session days later.
“One thing that all Texans can agree on is that we must have trust and confidence in our elections,” Abbott said during the bill-signing ceremony. “The bill that I’m about to sign helps to achieve that goal.”
Supporters argue that the necessary restrictions within the bill will prevent voter fraud in future elections.
“Senate Bill 1 creates uniform statewide voting hours, maintains and expands voting access for registered voters that need assistance, prohibits drive-through voting, and enhances transparency by authorizing poll watchers to observe more aspects of the election process,” Abbott said in a statement ahead of the signing.
Critics, however, argue that the bill will place harmful restrictions on voters of color and voters in urban areas, two demographics that tend to vote Democratic. Voting rights advocates have already sued to have the bill thrown out, alleging that it will make it disproportionately harder for people of color to vote.
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