Texas among the states where lawmakers have filed the most bills to restrict voting access

click to enlarge A voter drops off her ballot at the Bexar County Elections Office. - Sanford Nowlin
Sanford Nowlin
A voter drops off her ballot at the Bexar County Elections Office.
After a polarizing presidential election characterized by false claims of voter fraud, Texas is among the states leading the nation in proposed legislation aiming to restrict poll access, a new study found.

With eight bills filed this legislative session to limit poll access, Texas is tied with Mississippi and New Jersey as the state with the fourth-highest number of such proposals, Brennan Center for Justice reported last week.

Pennsylvania, a 2020 battleground state, leads the nation with 14 new restrictive voting bills, according to the research. New Hampshire comes in second with 11, followed by Missouri with nine.

Indeed, 28 states have introduced a total of 106 voter-restriction bills this year, compared to 35 being filed in 15 states last year, according to the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan public policy group at New York University Law School.

"In a backlash to historic voter turnout in the 2020 general election, and grounded in a rash of baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities, legislators have introduced three times the number of bills to restrict voting access as compared to this time last year," according to the report.

Despite a lack of evidence of widespread voter fraud, Republicans in Texas and other states have used concerns about election security to justify more restrictive voting rules.

However, voting-rights groups point out that many of those states, including Texas, have long histories of voter suppression. They argue that the GOP wants to limit poll access for poor and minority voters since they're likely to vote for Democratic candidates.

During Texas' current legislative session, state GOP Chairman Allen West demanded that “election integrity” to be a top priority. What's more, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott led court fights to limit mail-in voting and county ballot drop-offs during the pandemic.

Among the bills so far filed by Texas' Republican lawmakers, Rep. Briscoe Cain of Deer Park authored House Bill 329, which would make the secretary of state cross-reference its voter registry with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s non-citizen resident database at least twice a year.

On the flip side, Texas has also seen a flood of Democrat-sponsored bills this session that would ease voting, the Brennan Center also points out. Among other things, those measures would widen mail-in voting eligibility and let local officials operate ballot drop boxes.

Of the 41 states with new election bills, 35 have introduced proposals expanding voting access, according the Brennan Center. At present, there are 406 such bills pending in state legislatures.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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