Texas Republicans Propose Sweeping Measures To Curb Voter Access Efforts

Isabel Longoria has spent the last few months working on the frontlines of expanding voter access. In the greater Houston area, the Harris County elections administrator has fought to increase the hours that voting centers were open and make polling locations less crowded. These efforts have allowed night shift workers to vote more easily. Also, Longoria said that it "spread out the number of people voting at any time" in a particular location.

Longoria's most helpful solution was curbside voting. In the midst of a pandemic, it allowed many voters to complete the task of voting in a safe, quick manner.

"Most folks who are fortunate to have a car use it to do all sorts of things — banking, grocery shopping," Longoria told NPR.

"What makes voting different? In my opinion, nothing."

Adding on, Longoria and her colleagues sent ballot applications to all eligible voters. All in all, these efforts went a long way toward allowing all eligible voters the opportunity to vote. Now, Republican lawmakers in the state of Texas are looking to make sure Longoria and her colleagues don't implement these same efforts in future elections. Governor Greg Abbott has argued that Longoria's effort could expose the state to widespread voter fraud.

"Whether it's the unauthorized expansion of mail-in ballots or the unauthorized expansion of drive-thru voting," Abbott said.

"We must pass laws to prevent election officials from jeopardizing the election process."

Texas has some of the toughest voting laws in the country and lawmakers are looking to make them even tougher. Recent proposals from Republican lawmakers include banning drive-thru voting and closing voting locations after 12 hours. Also, lawmakers have proposed having the same number of voting machines at each location. This proposal has seemingly baffled Texas residents the most.

"If you have a smaller-size room in one part of your county that can only fit eight [voting machines]," Williamson County election administrator Chris Davis said.

"Well, by golly, eight is as many as you can have in an arena, or a lecture hall or high school gym."

As these bills enter state legislative sessions, it is clear that marginalized communities will be affected most if they are passed.

"One hundred twenty-seven thousand voters did drive-thru voting — the majority of which were Black and brown voters," Longoria said.

"It's hard to not draw a line and say, 'Why are you going after this innovation?' "

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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