Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a Republican-backed voting bill into law Tuesday, marking a huge victory for conservative backers who say the legislation will help tighten and secure future elections.
The law effectively rolls back pandemic-era expansions on voting capabilities such as 24-hour and drive-thru voting. It also adds identity verification steps requiring voters to provide their driver's license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number, among other measures.
"It does make it easier and than ever before for anybody to go cast a ballot. It does also, however, make sure it is harder than ever for people to cheat at the ballot box," Abbott said during an event Tuesday in which he signed the bill into law.
VOTING RIGHTS ADVOCATES FILE LAWSUIT AGAINST GOP-BACKED BILL IN TEXAS
Opponents of Senate Bill 1 say its measures will disproportionately restrict voting access for marginalized voters, including people of color and people with disabilities.
Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) signs restrictive voting bill SB1 into law, despite House Democrats fleeing state in attempts to stop its passage:— The Recount (@therecount) September 7, 2021
“Election integrity is now law in the state of Texas.” pic.twitter.com/iViAQZZ6SB
Texas Democrats fled the state earlier this summer to stymie a vote on the GOP-backed election reforms, as Republicans in the Texas Legislature had enough votes to surpass the opposing party's stance against the bill.
A controversial section of the bill would give more authority to partisan poll watchers, allowing them greater access to all aspects of voting and ballot counting. Proponents argue the access is necessary to ensure transparent elections, but opponents of the new poll-watching rules say they could lead to voter intimidation and dissuade some vulnerable Texans from casting their ballots.
The American Civil Liberties Union called the law on Tuesday "unconstitutional and anti-democratic," vowing to challenge the law at a later date.
Activists filed a lawsuit in Texas on Friday to block the law from taking effect and seeking "declaratory and injunctive relief to enforce the United States Constitution, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Americans with Disabilities Act."
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"By law, the citizens of Texas all have the same right to vote, regardless of race or disability. But with S.B. 1, the Legislature is undermining equal access to the ballot box," said Sean Morales-Doyle of the Brennan Center for Justice, one of the groups behind the lawsuit.