© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Voters line up at a polling station during Election Day in Houston, Texas, U.S., November 3, 2020. REUTERS/Callaghan O’Hare
LUBBOCK, Texas (Reuters) -The Texas Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that critics say will unduly restrict voting access for minority voters, and the governor is expected to sign the measure soon into law.
The bill easily passed the Republican-dominated Texas House of Representatives last week, six weeks after dozens of Democratic lawmakers fled the state to break legislative quorum and delay passage of the Republican-backed bill.
The Texas bill would outlaw drive-through and 24-hour voting locations, add new identification requirements to mail-in voting, prevent election officials from sending out unsolicited mail-in ballot applications and empower partisan poll-watchers. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, has strongly pushed the bill and is expected to sign it in the coming days.
Drive-through and 24-hour voting were innovations pushed through in the Houston metropolitan area in last November’s elections, measures that local officials said drove the record turnout the area witnessed.
“You can say this isn’t about the ‘big lie’ and all that. But it is,” said Senator Royce West, a Democrat, in speaking against the bill in the Senate on Tuesday. “This wasn’t even on the agenda before Trump started talking about election integrity.”