(USA Features) Texas may soon become the next state to pass major ballot reforms following a chaotic post-2020 presidential election that will include more stringent voter identification measures.
On Friday, the Texas House advanced legislation after hours of debate that supporters say will dramatically enhance voting integrity.
“The purpose of this is to make it even more safe and secure,” said Rep. Brisco Cain, chairman the House Elections Committee, according to local reports.
“The Constitution commands the legislature to pass legislation to attack fraud and to preserve the purity of the ballot box, and I’ve seen a lot of polling suggesting the trust in our elections process is down,” he added.
The Texas House voted largely along party lines to advance a watered-down version of Senate Bill 7, advancing the legislation 81-64. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has made it a priority for the state legislature to pass voter reform legislation before the current session ends May 31.
A second vote will still be required to move S.B.-7 out of the House, reports NBC News, adding that after the vote, the competing House and Senate bills will be sent to a conference committee to hammer out a final version before sending it on to Abbott for signing.
During hours of debate overnight, Democrats charged that the legislation as written would make it too difficult for minorities to obtain the proper voter ID and have other suppressive effects on persons of color.
Specifically, however, the bill increases penalties for voting crimes, prohibits the mass distribution of mail-in ballot applications, and increases partisan poll watchers.
Republicans countered Democratic allegations, with Cain saying the measure actually protects voters and “make them even more safe and secure.”
“We don’t have to wait for bad things to happen to try to protect and secure these elections,” he added.
It’s likely, however, that provisions of the new law will be challenged in court.
Nevertheless, Texas lawmakers passed their version of a voter integrity bill a day after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, signed similar legislation into law on Thursday.
“We’re making sure we’re enforcing voter ID,” DeSantis said during the signing in West Palm Beach in front of cheering supporters. “We’re also banning ballot harvesting. We’re not going to let political operatives go and get satchels of votes to dump them in some dropbox.”