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Texas election bill survives Senate filibuster, advances to House

Kendall Tietz, DCNF

The Texas state Senate voted to advance the Republican-backed election bill Thursday morning following a Democratic senator’s attempt to block the legislation with a 15-hour overnight filibuster.

The GOP-controlled Senate voted in favor of the legislation along party lines, the Texas Tribune reported.

Democrats have criticized the bill as an effort to restrict voting rights. The current version of the bill in the second special session is less restrictive, the Hill reported.

The election bill, SB 1, would eliminate policies implemented during the pandemic that allowed drive-thru and overnight voting and gives partisan poll watchers more rights inside polling and curbside voting locations.

The bill also requires a driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number to apply for a mail-in voting ballot and requires verification of citizenship status for voter registration applications.

This latest bill doesn’t include two provisions of the original bill, SB 7, that made it easier to overturn election results in the face of voter fraud claims, as well as the Sunday morning voting limit, which black churches call “Souls to the Polls,” Fox News reported.

Zack Smith, a legal fellow in the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation, said he believes many recent election bills are ultimately good proposals despite the strong opposition to them.

“Despite the heated rhetoric, when you actually look at what many of these measures are doing, I think most Americans agree that these are common sense measures that are ultimately good for our nation,” Smith said.

“As a practical matter, local, state governments have a better idea of what’s going on in their jurisdictions, they’re closer to the people, they understand the local conditions,” Smith said. “A one size fits all national solution may not be appropriate.”

Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Carol Alvarado finished her overnight filibuster before 9 a.m. on Thursday. It was a last-ditch effort to block the bill, which she called a threat to democracy, the Texas Tribune reported.

“As we draw this discussion to an end, it is my sincere hope that civil acts by everyday Texans, from the Senate floor to the ballot box, can help to shed the light on all important issues,” Alvarado said according to the Texas Tribune. “What do we want our democracy to look like?” 

With the Senate passage of SB 1 in the second special session, the attention shifts to the House to also pass the legislation, which will require a quorum. On May 30, Democrats walked out during the regular session to prevent the passage of the original bill, SB 7 and then fled to Washington D.C on July 12 to break quorum in protest of SB 1 during the first special session.

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