In a hearing Monday, legislators and members of the public convened to debate Senate Bill 1 that would restrict mail-in voting, prohibit 24-hour and drive-thru voting, eliminate some early voting options, add criminal penalties for voting law violations and empower partisan poll watchers. Dozens of Texans testified before lawmakers in the final opportunity for public input on the bill that has been widely denounced as voter suppression that will disproportionately impact minority and disabled communities. Despite the efforts of Democrats who fled to Washington D.C. to deny Republicans the quorum needed to pass the legislation, the new voting restrictions will be likely move to Gov. Greg Abbott‘s desk and be signed into law.
A majority of Democrats in the Texas House left for Washington, D.C., Monday afternoon in a bid to again deny Republicans the quorum needed to pass new voting restrictions with 26 days left in a special legislative session called largely for that purpose.
A House committee amended Senate Bill 1 on Monday to match language in House Bill 3 in order to send the two versions of the bill to a conference committee for reconciliation. The House version adds additional criminal penalties to the process.
“The legislative intent of the bill is the application of this code and the conduct of elections be uniform and consistent throughout the state to reduce the likelihood of fraud in the conduct of elections, protect the secrecy of the ballot, promote voter access and ensure all legally cast ballots are counted, so Texans remain confident in a reliable elections system,” said Republican Rep. Andrew Murr, author of the bill. He later told the House committee Monday that the language was inspired by bipartisan input.