Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a voter integrity bill into law Tuesday — the same law that Texas Democrats fled the state to avoid voting on.
In a signing ceremony held Tuesday, Abbott said the bill makes “it easier than ever before for anybody to go cast a ballot. It does also, however, make sure it is harder than ever for people to cheat at the ballot box.”
“Election integrity is now law in Texas,” Abbott said before signing.
The bill takes several measures to ensure integrity in casting ballots, instituting a ban on drive-through and round-the-clock voting, and adding an ID requirement for mail-in and absentee ballots.
“Those who do want to vote-by-mail must now provide their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number when they’re applying for a mail-in ballot and when they send it back in,” the Daily Mail explained. The same measure also mandates that polling locations in areas with more than 55,000 residents offer at least 12 hours of early voting.
The bill also establishes a training program for poll watchers, who can now be more aggressive in monitoring the voting process. Poll watchers are no longer forced to sit in place, allowing them to keep track of activity across the polling location. Anyone assisting someone in filling out a ballot will now also have to sign an affidavit indicating that they did so according to the voter’s wishes and not their own.
According to the Daily Mail, the bill also requires the Texas Secretary of State to maintain consistently updated voter rolls.
Democratic legislators in Texas tried to forestall passage of the bill by leaving the state, traveling on chartered private planes to Washington, D.C., where they planned to agitate for the For the People Act, a federal voting rights bill that critics claim would amount to a federal “takeover” of a state-level election process. Once in Washington, D.C., however, some of the Texas Democratic legislators fell ill with COVID-19, triggering a small outbreak among Democratic Congressional and White House staffers.
The protests “did not wind up significantly changing the bill,” the Daily Mail noted Tuesday, and the Texas legislature was able to eventually return to session, pass the bill, and send it to Abbott’s desk. The most significant change is to the voter ID requirement, which now says voters must provide a driver’s license or social security number that matches the one in their state voter record. Previously, the bill required a driver’s license or social security number that was identical to the one on the application form from when they first registered to vote.
Democrats are planning a legal challenge to the law.