These restrictions are targeted at voting methods that are rising in popularity throughout the country. They create hurdles to mail voting and early voting, which saw an explosion during the pandemic. A record 40% of voters cast mail ballots last fall, which is a record.
Texas is the latest state to crack down, after the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill Tuesday taking aim at Democratic-leaning counties that have sought to expand access to the ballot.
"Regardless of motives these bills hurt voters," stated Isabel Longoria (the election administrator for Harris County which includes Houston). "Voters will feel this when they vote again, and that's the thing I worry about most."
The new laws, according to Republican lawmakers and their allies, are intended to protect election integrity. But Democrats and voting rights activists claim they will disenfranchise voters, particularly young people and minorities. The bill in Texas caused Democratic lawmakers to flee the capital city to stop a legislative majority. This protest ended when only a few lawmakers returned from Texas after more than a month.
The Texas bill is expected to be signed by the Republican Governor. Greg Abbott follows similar legislation in Arizona, Florida and Georgia this year, as well as other GOP-controlled states like Iowa, Georgia, Georgia, Iowa, and Georgia. Ohio is also seeing restrictions, as Republicans control both the legislature and the governor's offices.
The most frequent targets of Republican lawmakers this past year were mail ballots, early in-person and early absentee voting. Many states have expanded these options to make voting more secure during the coronavirus epidemic.