Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed the final revision of the election integrity bill proposed by Republican Senator Bryan Hughes. “Election integrity is now law in Texas,” Abbott said after affixing his signature to the document.
The governor said the new election integrity law will ensure that “all eligible voters get to vote,” extend voting hours, make it more difficult to cast fraudulent votes, and criminalize the arbitrary collection of ballots as a third-degree felony.
“Simply put: it’s easier to vote and harder to cheat,” the governor added.
A long process
The final version of the bill reached Abbott’s desk three months after House Democrats broke quorum to block an earlier version of the legislation.
For Democrats, the risk the measure carried about potential new barriers for black voters and people with disabilities was justification enough for them to stall the Capitol for nearly six weeks.
But that extra time came in handy for Republicans, who used the two special sessions called by Abbott to push for fixes to the legislation that otherwise would have become law.
Abbott’s signature ends an eventful legislative saga that took two overtime sessions, a dramatic walkout by Democratic members of Congress who fled to Washington in protest until facing criminal subpoenas, and marathon hearings that stoked tensions between representatives of both parties.
Under the new law, Texas will penalize with jail time local election officials who proactively distribute mail-in ballot requests before qualified voters request them according to legal procedure. It also bans drive-thru (voting without getting out of a vehicle) and establishes new limits on early voting hours to prevent late-night voting.
In a statement released last week, the governor thanked Senator Hughes, Representative Andrew Murr, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker Dade Phelan for working to get the bill “across the finish line” during the second special session.
“Senate Bill 1 will solidify trust and confidence in the outcome of our elections by making it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” Abbott finished in that statement.