Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs election reform bill into law

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Getty Images/George Frey

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a voting reform bill into law that increases the number of hours for early voting, makes ballot harvesting a third-degree felony, and bans drive-thru and 24-hour voting.

Abbott signed Senate Bill 1 into law on Tuesday, after the legislation was passed during an emergency session that gained national attention after some Democrat lawmakers fled the state to prevent a quorum.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Abbott said the new law “ensures trust and confidence in our elections system — and most importantly, it makes it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

“Safe and secure elections are critical to the foundation of our state,” the governor added. “I am proud to sign Senate Bill 1 into law to uphold the integrity of our elections in Texas.”

The American Civil Liberties Union denounced the law, taking to their Twitter account to label the new law “unconstitutional” and vowed legal action against it.

“The Governor of Texas just signed SB1, a new voter suppression law. This law is unconstitutional and anti-democratic. Texas — we’ll see you in court,” tweeted the ACLU.

During a special session of the Legislature held in the summer, Texas lawmakers passed SB 1, which supporters say will close loopholes and ensure election integrity. 

The new law has multiple provisions, including a ban on drive-thru voting in most circumstances unless a voter is physically unable to enter a polling place, expanding partisan poll watcher access at polling places, a ban on county officials soliciting early voting, and stricter ID requirements for mail-in ballots.

The new law also bans 24-hour voting, which was done for the first time in state history in Harris County, which includes Houston, during the 2020 presidential election.

Democrat members of the state House of Representatives garnered much attention when, in an attempt to thwart the legislation's passage, they fled the state to try and stop the summer session from having the necessary quorum.

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued a statement in July defending their actions, claiming they were protecting voting rights against “attacks” by Republicans.

“Today, by breaking quorum to block Abbott’s attacks on voters, Texas Democrats are making history. After Abbott dragged lawmakers back to the Capitol for his suppression session, Democrats are fighting back with everything we’ve got,” stated Hinojosa.

“We will not stand by and watch Republicans slash our right to vote, silence the voices of Texans of color, and destroy our democracy — all to preserve their own power. Our lawmakers have refused to be complicit in Republicans’ destructive attacks.”

Others, such as National Review editor Rich Lowry, took issue with that portrayal, labeling Democrats' claims about SB 1 as “self-serving hysteria.”

“The Texas bill is no more a voter-suppression measure than the Georgia election law that passed a few months ago, which occasioned outraged accusations of the arrival of Jim Crow 2.0 that ultimately fell flat,” wrote Lowry back in June.

"[N]one of [SB 1’s provisions] would actually prevent anyone from voting, and there is zero chance that the bill would discernibly affect turnout.”

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