The bill, called SB 1, will disproportionately limit voting access for people of color, people with disabilities, and elderly people in Texas. It bans drive-through voting and 24-hour voting, as well as curtails early voting hours to between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The bill also gives more power to partisan poll watchers and limits polling locations.
SB 1 makes it more difficult to vote by mail as well. It imposes stricter ID requirements for mail voting and bans the unsolicited distribution of mail ballot applications, even for people 65 and older who are automatically eligible to cast a mail-in ballot. The bill also restricts the amount of assistance available for voters with disabilities who need help casting their ballots.
“SB 1 deliberately targets people of color, the elderly, and those with disabilities, placing illegal restrictions on the ballot box. There’s no denying that this bill is an attack on democracy in our state and a transparent act of political desperation,” said Brianna Brown, Co-Executive of the Texas Organizing Project, in a statement.
Gov. Abbott’s signing of SB 1 has bolstered calls for increased federal voting protections in the face of state legislatures’ assault on voting rights.
“The passage of SB 1 should be a clarion call for U.S. Senators on the urgent need for federal action protecting the freedom to vote,” said Stacey Abrams, former member of the Georgia House of Representatives and founder of Fair Fight Action, a voting rights organization. “With the Texas redistricting process looming, U.S. Senate passage of the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is imperative.”
Abrams called Gov. Abbott and the Texas Legislature “relentless in their efforts to advance anti-voter legislation and restrict Texans’ freedom to vote by any means possible.”
“As Texas sees one of the worst surges in COVID-19 hospitalizations to date, Abbott and his partisan allies have instead prioritized denying eligible Texans their fundamental freedom to vote,” she continued.
Several lawsuits have already been filed by civil and voting rights organizations in the hopes of preventing SB 1 from taking effect. One lawsuit argued that SB 1 “intended to impose a particular burden on Texas’s Black and Latino communities—exacerbating the marginalization caused by more than a century of discriminatory practices.”
“For democracy to work, it must include all voices. SB 1 is an extremist anti-voter bill that raises even more barriers to voting and specifically targets vulnerable communities, especially voters with disabilities, voters of color, and elderly voters,” said Grace Chimene, president of the League of Women Voters of Texas, a plaintiff in one of the suits targeting the law.
“SB 1 is a violation of our freedom to vote, and we will continue to fight every attempt to silence Texas voters.”
Sources: CNN 9/7/21; Feminist Newswire 9/7/21; League of Women Voters of Texas 9/3/21; Fair Fight Action 9/8/21; Washington Post 9/7/21