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Tags: Voting Rights | texas | election | voting | laws | special session

'Election Integrity' Among Items for Texas Legislature Special Session

greg abbott speaks to group
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a border security briefing on June 30, 2021 in Weslaco, Texas. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 08 July 2021 10:04 AM

Voting laws again are a hot issue in Texas, where state lawmakers Thursday begin a 30-day special legislative session.

Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, has said he wants "election integrity" to be part of the session's focus, CNN reported.

Abbott on Wednesday sent Deputy Secretary of State Joe Esparza a letter that included 11 items on which the governor wanted lawmakers to "consider and act upon."

Voting laws are a priority for Republicans, who want to ensure the legitimacy and integrity of future elections.

In May, state House Democrats walked off the floor during the final hours of this year's legislative session to block the Republican majority from having the quorum necessary to pass Senate Bill 7.

The bill would have affected such procedures as mail-in ballots and drive-thru voting centers, and would have empowered poll watchers.

Democrats especially were angered that SB 7 would have limited early voting hours on Sundays until after 1 p.m., basically barring Black churches from conducting "souls to the polls" early voting drives, according to CNN.

Republican lawmakers, however, said the time was an error in the drafting of the bill, and that they had intended to allow early voting to begin at 11 a.m. on Sundays.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R, tweeted this week that the Sunday early voting hours and language making it easier for courts to overturn election results will not be included in the Republicans' special session bill.

"We wanted to be sure we have full verification of mail-in ballots and again making sure people who say they are going to vote and are voting are the people they say they are," Patrick told Fox News earlier this summer. "This is not voter suppression."

CNN said the state Senate could advance its own measure, and it could take weeks for majority Republicans to determine the contents of a final election bill.

The Texas Tribune reported a Senate committee will meet as soon as Saturday on a voting bill. The chamber's version in the regular session was much broader than that favored by the House.

The initial version of the House special sessions bill has embraced several of the Senate's earlier items, including drive-thru voting, 24-hour voting, and a new ID requirement for mail-in voting that was added to SB 7 at the last minute, according to the Tribune.

"Before the regular session ended we probably had, on both the House and Senate side, too many cooks, too many fingers in the pie," State Rep. Travis Clardy, R- Nacogdoches, told the Tribune. "Mechanically, [SB 7] should’ve been winnowed down and been simpler."

State House Democrats also accused Republicans of excluding them from negotiations and adding laws that hadn't been discussed previously.

"We are meddling with the very core of our democracy and with the most fundamental rights of our constituents," Democrats said in a letter to House Speaker Dade Phelan, according to CNN. "We cannot deliberate on these issues through a process that is at best a blundering mess and at worst a deceptive, hyperpartisan sham."

Texas Republicans want the Lone Star State to join Georgia, Florida, Iowa, and others with GOP governors and legislatures who have enacted new voting laws.

Also on Abbott’s list of agenda items for the special session were social media censorship, the banning of critical race theory in Texas classrooms, and banning transgender students from competing on sports teams that correspond with their gender identities.

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Politics
Voting laws again are a hot issue in Texas, where state lawmakers Thursday begin a 30-day special legislative session. Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, has said he wants "election integrity" to be part of the session's...
texas, election, voting, laws, special session
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2021-04-08
Thursday, 08 July 2021 10:04 AM
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