This article appeared in the August 27, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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How Texas fits in a summer of US voting bills

Eric Gay/AP
House Speaker Dade Phelan (right), a Republican, talks with Democratic Rep. Toni Rose as the House debates election bill SB1, Aug. 26, 2021, in Austin, Texas.
Peter Grier
Washington editor

Late Thursday night Republicans in the Texas House passed new voting restrictions after months of protests, and a 38-day walkout by Democratic colleagues.

The move ensures that Gov. Greg Abbott will soon sign the measure. It also caps a spring and summer where many state legislatures fought bitterly over electoral legislation sparked in part by former President Donald Trump’s false claims of fraud in the 2020 vote.

As Texas demonstrates, some big states controlled by Republicans have moved decisively toward tightening vote procedures. The Texas bill adds new ID requirements for voting by mail, gives more power to partisan poll watchers, and bans drive-thru and 24-hour voting, which were used in 2020 in Houston’s Harris County.

These changes could make voting more difficult in a state where turnout ranked 44th out of 50 in last year’s presidential election.

“It’s hard not to define those [laws] that make it harder to vote in a state that already has one of the lowest voter participation rates in the country as anything other than suppression,” Joshua Blank, research director at the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, told the Monitor’s Dwight Weingarten last month.

But the overall national effect of this year’s legislative changes may be more nuanced. At least 18 states have enacted 30 laws that restrict voting access, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. However, at least 25 states have enacted 54 laws with provisions to expand voting access, according to the Brennan study.

This article appeared in the August 27, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 08/27 edition
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