The GOP-led Texas state House approved a voting reform bill around 3 a.m. Friday after a long battle with state Democrats, making it the nation’s most populous state to pass a voting reform bill following the 2020 presidential election.
The bill prohibits the practice of sending unsolicited vote-by-mail applications and improves access to partisan poll watchers, among other provisions.
The state Senate passed a similar bill. The legislation will now require both groups to agree on a final version before it is sent to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott‘s desk to sign.
Abbott offered his support for election integrity legislation when he said in a March statement, “Our objective in Texas is to ensure that every eligible voter gets to vote and that only eligible ballots are counted.”
He added, “In the 2020 election, we witnessed actions throughout our state that could risk the integrity of our elections and enable voter fraud, which is why I made election integrity an emergency item this session. Thank you to Senator [Paul] Bettencourt and Representative Cain for their leadership on this important issue and drafting legislation to protect free and fair elections in the state of Texas.”
Rep. Jessica González, a Dallas-area Democrat and House election committee vice chairwoman, said, “I think it’s a terrible piece of legislation,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick appeared Thursday on Fox News to attack companies fighting against the bill.
— American Wire Politics (@usawirepolitics) May 6, 2021
On Tuesday, The New York Times reported two coalitions of companies were launching efforts to oppose the new law.
“One letter comes from a group of large corporations, including HP, Microsoft, Unilever, Salesforce, Patagonia and Sodexo, as well as local companies and chambers of commerce, and represents the first major coordinated effort among businesses in Texas to take action against the voting proposals,” the report said.
The second group includes more than 100 Houston-area executives who oppose “voter suppression.”
Two letters from coalitions of Texas employers released today on voter restriction in Texas. One calls on #txlege to be against voting restrictions in principle & the other calls out evidence of voter suppression in the two omnibus voting reform bills, #HB6 & #SB7. #txlege https://t.co/AwxhUyR966
— RA News (@RANewsTX) May 4, 2021
The Texas vote followed a new Florida law signed Thursday by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“Florida took action this legislative session to increase transparency and strengthen the security of our elections,” DeSantis said in a statement.
“Floridians can rest assured that our state will remain a leader in ballot integrity,” the Republican said. “Elections should be free and fair, and these changes will ensure this continues to be the case in the Sunshine State.”
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