Republican lawmakers in Texas and Florida move forward with voting reform, unfazed by fallout in Georgia
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed voting reform measures into law on Thursday which further regulate ballot drop boxes and extends no solicitation zones around voting locations
There is no evidence of widespread election fraud in America’s 2020 fall elections but this hasn’t stopped states with Republican majorities from passing voting reform measures.
Some Republican state lawmakers have said voting reform laws will further secure elections, while opponents of the reforms say they will lead to voter suppression and disproportionally affect already underrepresented communities.
Claims of election fraud — regardless of their veracity — have been encouraged by former President Donald Trump, who lost his reelection last fall.
In early morning hours Friday, Texas’ GOP-led House passed a voting reform bill that will be combined with a similar voting reform bill that found success in the state Senate, The Associated Press reported. The proposed legislation is expected to be supported by Republican Gov. Greg Abbot. A day earlier, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — a Republican who’s speculated to be a contender for the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2024, reported NBC News — signed the Sunshine State’s latest voting reform measure into law.
Texas and Florida’s voting reform measures come less than two months after Georgia’s election overhaul was signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. That led Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and The Coca-Cola Company to publicly admonish Georgia’s passage of the law, while Major League Baseball pulled the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta.
Republican lawmakers in two red states appear not to be dissuaded by any potential loss of businesses or public rebukes by large corporations.
Texas House and Senate pass voting laws
Republican-sponsored voting reform bills in Texas are working their way through that state’s legislative process.
- Early Friday morning, the Texas House passed a voting reform bill that would “greatly empower partisan poll watchers, prohibit election officials from mailing out absentee ballot applications and impose strict punishments for those who provide assistance outside the lines of what is permissible,” according to The New York Times.
- The Lone Star State’s House bill could later be “harmonized alongside a bill already passed by the state Senate that limits early voting hours, prohibits drive-through voting and allows partisan poll watchers to photograph people voting,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
- “I made election integrity an emergency item this session to help ensure every eligible voter gets to vote & only eligible ballots are counted,” Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said on Twitter Thursday.
I made election integrity an emergency item this session to help ensure every eligible voter gets to vote & only eligible ballots are counted.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 6, 2021
Thank you to @BriscoeCain, @TeamBettencourt, @SenBryanHughes & the #txlege for working hard to protect free & fair elections in TX.
Florida’s new election law
In a Fox News exclusive event Thursday, DeSantis signed Florida’s new voting reform legislation into law, reported 10 Tampa Bay — a CBS affiliate.
- The new law restricts ballot drop box hours, requires drop boxes to be attended and expands “the no-solicitation zone around polling places to 150 feet. In other words, nobody within that distance can try to solicit votes or distribute items like water,” according to 10 Tampa Bay.
- The governor told Fox News that he is “not a fan of drop boxes at all — to be honest with you — but the legislature wanted to keep them. But they need to be monitored. You can’t just leave these boxes out where there’s no supervision,” 10 Tampa Day reported.
As the ink dried on Florida’s new election law, the League of Women Voters of Florida, the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, the Black Voters Matter Fund and others filed a federal lawsuit against the legislation, The Associated Press reported.
- “The legislation has a deliberate and disproportionate impact on elderly voters, voters with disabilities, students and communities of color. It’s a despicable attempt by a one party ruled legislature to choose who can vote in our state and who cannot. It’s undemocratic, unconstitutional and un-American,” said League of Women Voters of Florida president Patricia Brigham, according to the AP.
- The NAACP and Common Cause — a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that promotes equal rights — filed a separate lawsuit in a Tallahassee federal court, reported the AP.
No evidence of voter fraud
Last November, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency announced that “the November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. Right now, across the country, election officials are reviewing and double checking the entire election process prior to finalizing the result.”
In an interview with The Associated Press in December, Trump administration Attorney General William Barr said the U.S. Justice Department had found “no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.”