New Republican Voting Restrictions Signed into Law by Texas Governor

Tyler, Texas – Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday added Texas into the list of US states to impose Republican-backed voting restrictions. The governor signed a law that was quickly challenged in court and criticized by President Joe Biden citing it as part of an “all-out assault” on American democracy.

According to the Republican governor during a signing ceremony in the East Texas city of Tyler, the law is intended to combat voter fraud. Critics of the governor’s decision to sign the law say it will make it harder for Black and Hispanic voters to vote – an important voting bloc for Democrats.

“I feel extremely confident that when this law makes it through the litigation phase, it will be upheld,” Abbott said.

“Because exactly what we’ve said, it does make it easier for people to be able to go vote. No one who is eligible to vote will be denied the opportunity to vote.”

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Texas became part of at least 18 states that have enacted new voting restrictions since the 2020 election. This is according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

The laws are part of a national Republican campaign, including in Florida, Georgia and Arizona, to tighten voting laws in the name of security, partly driven by Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen.

Critics immediately filed lawsuits against the new Texas law known as Senate Bill 1. The American Civil Liberties Union, minority rights groups, and disability advocates are part of a broad coalition that filed separate lawsuits last week in federal court in Texas, accusing Republican lawmakers of violating the federal Voting Rights Act and intentionally discriminating against minorities.

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The changes targeted areas where President Joe Biden won during last year’s election – Harris County in the Houston area, where President Joe Biden carried the county of 1.6 million voters last year by a 13-point margin. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Harris County elections officials offered 24-hour polling places and drive-thru voting, which are now outlawed under the new law.

The county also tried sending mail-in ballot applications to more than 2 million registered voters, but going forward in Texas, any elections official who tries sending an application to someone who doesn’t request one could face criminal charges.

Additional inclusions of the change allow partisan poll watchers more movement, and election judges who obstruct them could face criminal penalties. Democrats argued that this could lead to voter intimidation.

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Due to these voting restrictions in Republican-controlled states, Democrats in Congress plan to pass new federal voting rights protections at the federal level but have been unable to overcome opposition from Senate Republicans.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Biden’s approach on voting rights, saying the president had used his bully pulpit and made Vice President Kamala Harris the point person on the issue. But Psaki said the administration planned to take additional but unspecified steps to address concerns from voting rights groups. “We would say to these advocates: We stand with you,” Psaki told reporters Tuesday aboard Air Force One. “There’s more we’re going to keep working on together.”

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