Following months of tension and dramatic political maneuverings, the Texas House of Representatives passed a sweeping election overhaul bill on Friday, bringing a host of new voting rules one step closer to being introduced.
The passage of the bill came a week after a handful of Democrats returned to the State Capitol after a 38-day walkout which saw much of the party’s State House delegation flee to Washington D.C. in order to delay the passage of SB1. The move drew national attention to the fight over voting rights in the state amidst the nationwide Republican campaign to harden election rules in response to claims about the integrity of the 2020 presidential contest.
The House’s version of the bill passed on a nearly party-line vote of 80 to 41 after a 12-hour floor debate Thursday, will be considered by the State Senate before it can be sent to Gov. Greg Abbott, who pledged to repeatedly call special sessions until lawmakers delivered a voting bill for him to sign.
The bill would ban voting changes that were introduced last year by local officials, like drive-through polling places and 24-hour voting; greatly empower partisan poll watchers; limit the mailing of absentee ballot applications; and increase civil and criminal penalties for voter fraud and for election officials who run afoul of the election code.