“One thing that all Texans can agree [. . .] is that we must have trust and confidence in our elections,” said Abbott. “[SB 1] helps to achieve that goal.”
Others present at the signing included Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), the Senate author of the bill whose district includes Tyler; Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Junction), the House sponsor of the bill; and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
“We’re here because we’re responding to some real problems that we have in Texas,” said Hughes, giving an example of a vote harvesting case where an individual was manipulated to vote for particular candidates.
“I don’t want to beat a dead horse here,” said Murr, “but Senate Bill 1 increases access to voting, provides safeguards to ensure that all legally cast votes are counted, updates outdated election code, and provides a basis of uniformity and consistency for all voting jurisdictions while still giving our local jurisdictions and our local governments the flexibility they need to adequately address their constituents’ concerns and needs.”
The signing of SB 1 marks the end, at least legislatively, of a fierce political battle between Texas Republicans and Democrats.
Democrats have been unified in opposing the bill since earlier iterations of it were filed during the regular legislative session this year, arguing that its provisions will lead to voter suppression.
For instance, many have claimed that new protections to ensure poll watchers can monitor the electoral process will actually embolden them to intimidate voters.
But Republicans say that the new policies, such as a crackdown on vote harvesting and a new requirement for mail ballot ID, will make it “easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
Other parts of the bill were welcomed by members of both parties, such as expanding the current requirement for employers to allow employees to vote on election day to apply to the early voting period as well.
However, the opposition to the legislation from the left mounted to new heights when enough House Democrats walked off the floor to break the quorum needed for the chamber to conduct business.
The drama continued throughout the summer when Abbott vetoed the funding for the legislature in the state budget in retaliation and as leverage for Democrats to stay during the special session so that the election reform bill could pass.
Democrats carried out another quorum bust then, though, which lasted for over a month and halfway into a second-called special session.
Ultimately, enough Democrats trickled back to the House to establish a quorum and SB 1 sailed through the process in a comparably uneventful fashion.
Barring any court injunction — and a lawsuit has been brought against the legislation — SB 1 will go into effect near the beginning of December.
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Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.