Published On: Tue, Sep 7th, 2021

Texas Gov. Abbott signs sweeping election bill into law

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a sweeping election bill into law on Tuesday morning, after months of battles with Democrats who fled the state in a futile effort to block the legislation.

Flanked by Republican state officials who championed of the legislation, including Sen. Bryan Hughes, Rep. Andrew Murr, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Abbott praised the new law.

“Election integrity is now law in the state of Texas,” Abbott said after signing the bill.

He and other lawmakers argue the new rules will make it easier to vote by expanding the required early voting hours in the state. But critics point to the reduction in early voting hours in some of the state’s most populous areas, which will now be prohibited from allowing overnight early voting.

At least two lawsuits have already been filed challenging the new law. Democrats have called the bill “Jim Crow 2.0” and said the law is designed to suppress access by voters of color. Republicans say the legislation is necessary to prevent voter fraud from occurring, despite broad evidence indicating voter fraud is exceedingly rare.

The law bans drive-thru and overnight early voting, which were popular in Houston’s Harris County during the pandemic. The bill also adds a new ID requirement for absentee voting and creates a process to correct information on mail ballots.

Partisan poll watchers and people helping voters cast a ballot will be subject to a raft of new rules and regulations governing their conduct. Poll watchers will be trained and empowered to move more freely around the polling place and obstructing a watcher will become a criminal offense. Those helping voters will have to fill out paperwork disclosing their relationship and recite an oath for poll workers.

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