The key vote at 3 a.m. Friday in the Texas House followed hours of debate that started the day before, with lawmakers now negotiating the final version of the legislation that will need approval before heading to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who has broadly defended the measures.
From Florida to Georgia, Iowa and now Texas, Republican lawmakers have used unsubstantiated claims by former President Donald Trump and his allies to justify new voting restrictions.
They argue the new limits, which largely target mail voting, are needed to boost public confidence and improve security. In some cases, the rules also create onerous requirements and penalties for local election officials.
“It is old Jim Crow dressed up in what our colleagues are calling election integrity,” said Democratic state Rep. Jessica Gonzalez.
Friday’s early morning vote was less than 24 hours after Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis signed a wide-ranging list of new voting restrictions into law.
New voting limits have also been signed into law in Georgia and Iowa. Elsewhere, Republicans in Ohio and Michigan are also pressing ahead with overhauls of various election procedures.
“We are seeing the strong effect of President Trump’s big lie. We are seeing the Republican Party go all-in on supporting him and his lies,” said Sylvia Albert, voting and elections director for Common Cause, which advocates for expanded voter access. “We are seeing them use this opportunity to create deliberate barriers to voting for Black and brown voters. It’s un-American.
In Texas, Democrats had no path to stop the bill in the GOP-controlled state Capitol, but they deployed various technical challenges and used hours of questioning that the bill’s author, Republican state Rep. Briscoe Cain, appeared unprepared at times to answer.
Finally, an agreement was reached between Republicans and Democrats leaving the bill with 20 amendments that significantly watered down some of what advocates called the most problematic aspects of the bill as it passed the key vote 81-64. The session ends May 31.