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World What Texas' New Voting Law Means

22:22  07 september  2021
22:22  07 september  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

Texas Senate Rejects Provision Protecting Felons Who Try to Vote From Being Arrested

  Texas Senate Rejects Provision Protecting Felons Who Try to Vote From Being Arrested Republican state Representative Briscoe Cain said the amendment was to make sure that "people that do innocent things" are not arrested again for their past actions. Following the removal of the bipartisan provision, Republican lawmakers prepared to send the finalized rewrite of the state's election laws to Governor Greg Abbott. The House approved the bill itself with a 80-41 vote on Tuesday.

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a new elections bill into law on Tuesday that adds further restrictions to the state's voting laws, the Associated Press reported.

Greg Abbott wearing a suit and tie: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the new Texas voting law on Sept. 7, 2021, which adds further restrictions to when and how people can vote in Texas. Abbott speaks during a border security briefing with sheriffs from border communities at the Texas State Capitol on July 10, 2021, in Austin, Texas. © Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the new Texas voting law on Sept. 7, 2021, which adds further restrictions to when and how people can vote in Texas. Abbott speaks during a border security briefing with sheriffs from border communities at the Texas State Capitol on July 10, 2021, in Austin, Texas.

State Democrats protested the bill for months, saying it discriminates against minority groups, making it harder for them to cast a vote. The bill limits how and when people can vote, removing options for drive-thru voting and 24-hour polling locations.

What’s in the new Republican voting law that passed in Texas?

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Those options were highly utilized during the November 2020 election due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Republican lawmakers argued that they were necessary only then and should not be part of regular voting procedures. In exchange, early voting hours have been extended and the law mandates workplaces to allow employees to go to the polls during either early voting or on Election Day.

Mail-in ballots are also facing further restrictions, including requiring an "ink-on-paper" signature that can be matched with one on file with the Texas Department of Public Safety records. Voting by mail in Texas was already limited to people 65 and older, voters who are out of state during the election or people with disabilities.

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For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Abbott signed the sweeping changes during a ceremony in the East Texas city of Tyler, where the surrounding county went for former President Donald Trump by a more than 2-to-1 margin last year. But it was far closer in Texas overall, with Trump carrying the state by 5 1/2 points, the thinnest margin of victory by a GOP presidential nominee here in decades.

The bill signing again underlined the hard right turn Texas Republicans made this year, including a new state law that took effect last week banning most abortions.

Texas is among at least 18 states that have enacted new voting restrictions since the 2020 election, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

The laws are part of a national GOP campaign, including in Florida, Georgia and Arizona, to tighten voting laws in the name of security, partly driven by Trump's false claims that the election was stolen.

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Opponents did not wait for Abbott's signature to begin filing lawsuits against the new Texas law known as Senate Bill 1. The American Civil Liberties Union, minority rights groups and disability advocates are part of a broad coalition that filed separate lawsuits last week in federal court in Texas, accusing Republicans lawmakers of violating the federal Voting Rights Act and intentionally discriminating against minorities.

Some changes squarely take aim at the Houston area, where President Joe Biden carried the surrounding county of 1.6 million voters by a 13-point margin. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Harris County elections officials tried sending mail-in ballot applications to more than 2 million registered voters, but going forward in Texas, any elections officials who try sending an application to someone who doesn't request one could face criminal charges.

Partisan poll watchers are now also entitled to more movement, and election judges who obstruct them could also face criminal penalties, which Democrats argue could lead to voter intimidation.

Texas Republicans OK arrest of Democrats who blocked voting bill

  Texas Republicans OK arrest of Democrats who blocked voting bill Democratic legislators fled the US state last month to stop the passage of bill they said would restrict voting rights. © Provided by Al Jazeera US Senator Jeff Merkley joins members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus who left Texas to block voting on a bill they say rolls back rights [J Scott Applewhite/The Associated Press] The measure, which came on Tuesday night after Republican state lawmakers in Texas voted earlier in the evening to allow the arrests, permits authorities to detain and bring the legislators to the state capitol upon their return to Texas.

In response to new voting restrictions in GOP-controlled statehouses, Democrats in Congress want to pass new federal voting rights protections at the federal level but have been unable to overcome opposition form Senate Republicans.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended Biden's approach on voting rights, saying the president had used his bully pulpit and made Vice President Kamala Harris the point person on the issue. But Psaki said the administration planned to take additional but unspecified steps to address concerns from voting rights groups.

"We would say to these advocates: we stand with you," Psaki told reporters Tuesday aboard Air Force One. "There's more we're going to keep working on together."

Abbott signed the bill 100 days after Democrats kicked off a summer of last-ditch maneuvers by walking out of the state Capitol to temporarily block the measure. That was followed by more than 50 Democrats flying to Washington, D.C., in July to thwart the bill for a second time, which led to Republicans issuing civil arrest warrants in an effort to compel Democrats to return, although no one wound up being forced to come back.

But the protests did not wind up significantly changing the bill, underscoring Republicans' determination to pass the measure and the strength of their commanding majority in the Texas Capitol.

Big Tech Companies Helped Fund Far-Right Groups Pushing for Texas Abortion Ban

  Big Tech Companies Helped Fund Far-Right Groups Pushing for Texas Abortion Ban Corporate backlash to the Texas abortion ban has so far been narrow and targeted, but one notably quiet sector has plenty of room—and money—to work with: Big Tech. A review of public disclosures from Facebook, Google, and Amazon shows the tech giants have for years funded some of the most influential conservative political organizations and dark money groups responsible for the war on abortion rights. Those groups include The Federalist Society, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, the Committee for Justice, and the Republican Attorneys General Association.

Greg Abbott wearing a suit and tie: Opponents of a sweeping Republican elections overhaul in Texas sued Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021 going to court even before he had signed into law changes that would further tighten the state's already strict voting rules. In this June 8, 2021, file photo, Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas. Eric Gay, File/AP Photo © Eric Gay, File/AP Photo Opponents of a sweeping Republican elections overhaul in Texas sued Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021 going to court even before he had signed into law changes that would further tighten the state's already strict voting rules. In this June 8, 2021, file photo, Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas. Eric Gay, File/AP Photo

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A Pivotal Moment for Voting Rights .
If passed, the Freedom to Vote Act will advance election-safety provisions in five major ways.First, the bill combines important protections from the House-passed For the People Act and Senator Raphael Warnock’s Preventing Election Subversion Act. It is designed to counter the pernicious provisions in laws in states such as Georgia and Texas aimed at allowing partisans to overturn lawful elections. It puts in place procedural safeguards against local election officials being removed for partisan purposes and makes intimidating election workers a felony.

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