An effort in Texas to make it more difficult to vote is the latest attempt by Republicans to complicate ballot access as former President Donald Trump continues to push baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
The legislation proposed by Texas GOP lawmakers would be among the most restrictive in the country. It would put new limits on the hours voting could take place, curtail the use of drop boxes and drive-through voting stations and restrict the ability of election officials to send applications to vote by mail to people who didn’t request one.
It would also make absentee voting more difficult, while imposing fines on local election officials and criminal penalties for those who obstruct partisan poll watchers. Opponents of the bill have stated that many of the provisions will make it more difficult for minority citizens to vote, notably by prohibiting early voting on Sundays, which could hamper “Souls to the Polls” events at predominantly Black churches.
In a statement over the weekend, President Biden called the Texas proposal “an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year — and often disproportionately targeting Black and brown Americans. It’s wrong and un-American. In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote.”
Democrats in the state Legislature walked out Sunday night to prevent a quorum and stop the bill from being passed prior to the end of the session. Republicans, who control the state government in Texas, could still pass the voting restrictions later this summer in a special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott.
“We will be back — when, I don’t know, but we will be back,” Republican Speaker Dade Phelan said as the session closed. “There’s a lot of work to be done, but I look forward to doing it with every single one of you.”
The push for the so-called election integrity legislation came after the highest turnout in decades for the state in 2020, with Republicans winning most statewide races comfortably. Those victories have not stopped Texas GOP lawmakers from joining others across the country from passing legislation that makes voting harder. Leaked video from an event for the conservative Heritage Action for America organization earlier this year included its director bragging about how the group had written legislation to restrict voting for state governments across the country.
Republicans have long pushed for stricter laws governing voting, in particular the passage of legislation that would require some form of ID to vote, despite some of the party’s own voting experts saying fraud is exceedingly rare. These efforts have reached a fever pitch in recent months as Trump continues to insist he won the 2020 election — an assertion with no basis in fact.
Trump has also praised a partisan audit of votes in Arizona, which has been criticized by some Republican officials in the state, while reportedly telling confidants he expects to be reinstalled as president this summer.
Trump’s efforts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the November election have been largely successful among GOP voters: A recent Yahoo News/YouGov poll found that 64 percent of Republicans say the election was “rigged and stolen from Trump.”
This is in line with other surveys, including a Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week that found 53 percent of Republicans believed Trump was the “true president” and a March poll from Monmouth that found 65 percent of Republicans believed Biden had won due to voter fraud. A survey released last week found that nearly a quarter of GOP voters believe in the tenets of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
Democrats in Congress have put forward a number of bills that would make it easier to vote, but they are unlikely to garner the minimum of 10 Republican votes necessary to overcome a filibuster in the Senate. While Senate Democrats could remove the filibuster and pass legislation with only 50 votes, moderate members like Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., oppose eliminating it.
Below are other states that either have passed or are considering new restrictions on voting.
New laws signed this year have made it a crime to vote in Alabama and then another state in the same election, which was already prohibited by state law. The state has also banned curbside voting, a practice that was not used in the state during the 2020 election.
Last month, Gov. Doug Ducey signed a controversial new law that will remove infrequent voters from the state’s early-voting list after it was approved in a party-line vote in the state Senate. After two GOP defections in the state Legislature, a bill that would have required additional identification to vote by mail was narrowly rejected.
In addition to a number of legislative proposals restricting voting, the GOP-controlled state Senate is also responsible for the much-ridiculed election audit in Maricopa County, where most Arizonans reside.
Republicans in the state Legislature have passed a number of election-related laws over the last few months, including a requirement to show a photo ID in order to submit a provisional ballot. Separate bills would require a signature match between absentee ballots and a voter’s original registration, a ban on unsolicited absentee-ballot applications, tighter deadlines on absentee ballots and the creation of a process that will allow the state Legislature to review elections.
Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson allowed the last two provisions to become law without signing them, an option in Arkansas.
Florida’s new election legislation was signed into law in early May live on Fox News, even after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis called the state's 2020 election the “gold standard” for how elections should be conducted.
Provisions include limiting the use of drop boxes, increasing voter ID requirements for anyone requesting an absentee ballot and requiring voters to request an absentee ballot every two years as opposed to the previous standard of every four years. The law also bans the distribution of food and water to people waiting to vote except by outside groups.
The bill was immediately challenged in court as unconstitutional.
“Senate Bill 90 does not impede all of Florida’s voters equally,” argued opponents of the legislation. “It is crafted to and will operate to make it more difficult for certain types of voters to participate in the state’s elections, including those voters who generally wish to vote with a vote-by-mail ballot and voters who have historically had to overcome substantial hurdles to reach the ballot box, such as Florida’s senior voters, youngest voters, and minority voters.”
The most high-profile major rollback of voting access occurred in Georgia, with GOP Gov. Brian Kemp signing the Election Integrity Act of 2021 into law on March 25. Under the new law, windows for vote-by-mail and drop-box placement were limited and voter ID restrictions were increased. The legislation also gives state-level officials the power to take over county election boards and criminalizes the passing out of food and drink in voting lines.
Trump narrowly lost Georgia in November, and congratulated Georgians on their new laws in a statement: “They learned from the travesty of the 2020 President Election, which can never be allowed to happen again. Too bad these changes could not have been done sooner.” Republicans also lost two U.S. Senate seats during a runoff election in early January.
As an action against the new restrictions, Major League Baseball moved next month’s All-Star Game from Braves Stadium outside of Atlanta to Colorado.
In Idaho, a law imposing stricter signature requirements “to ensure the security of absentee voting and the validity of petition signatures” was signed into law by Brad Little, the Republican governor.
In Indiana, a law making it harder for voters to receive and deliver their mail-in ballots, including limiting the availability of drop boxes, was signed by GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb. A similar bill with stricter changes to absentee ballots — requiring voters to submit identification numbers with their ballot applications — stalled after receiving criticism from Eli Lilly and Co., one of Indiana’s most prominent corporations.
Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new law in March that will cut the state’s early-voting period from 29 days to 20. The state had already reduced early voting from 40 days in 2017.
The new law will also close polls an hour earlier and tighten the windows in which absentee ballots can be both sent and counted. Additionally, it establishes limits for each county to only one ballot drop box, bans local election officials from mailing out absentee ballot request forms unless the voter requests one first and establishes stiff penalties for county auditors who violate election laws.
Earlier this month, Republicans in the GOP-controlled Kansas Legislature were successful in overriding vetoes by the state's Democratic governor on two laws that make it more difficult for voters to automatically receive their ballots. One of the bills would also limit the ability of non-family members to deliver absentee ballots on behalf of others.
When Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed the measures in April, she said the measures were "designed to disenfranchise Kansans, making it difficult for them to participate in the democratic process, not to stop voter fraud.”
Kentucky became the only state in the country with a Republican-controlled Legislature to expand voting rights last month, passing a bipartisan bill establishing three days of early voting in the state, increasing the number of voting centers, creating an online portal for voter registration and allowing voters to fix problems with absentee ballots. But Kentucky still has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country. Indeed, the same bill that expanded voting rights also included new restrictions on mail voting.
Montana has enacted four restrictive voting rights bills since January, including a measure that eliminated Election Day voter registration and another permitting more polling locations to qualify for reduced hours.
Oklahoma was one of several states to pass laws shortening the time frame for voters to request a mail ballot. Under the new bill, which was signed into law earlier this month, requests for absentee ballots must be received by the appropriate election officials “no later than the third Monday preceding an election.”
In March, Utah enacted a bill requiring election officials to cross-reference all death certificates against voter registration rolls and remove the names of dead voters within 10 days. Critics of the law say that, because it does not require any notice to voters who are being removed or require auditing of the data, it increases the possibility of voter rolls being wrongly purged.
In Wyoming, a bill requiring voters to present specific forms of photo identification before being able to vote in person was signed into law last month. Under the new law, voters need to present one of the following forms of identification at the polls: a driver’s license, a tribal identification card, a valid U.S. passport, a U.S. military card, or a Medicare or Medicaid insurance card. The law passed despite a lack of evidence of voter fraud in the Equality State.
“Who is out there, trying to cheat our elections in Wyoming?” Case Cale, a Republican state senator who voted against the measure, told the Casper Star Tribune. “Who is waking up real early in the morning, and thinking they’re going to get to the polls before the actual person that is there to vote to misrepresent themselves as that person and to cast a vote? I’m having a little trouble understanding how this fraud comes about.”