Like Republicans across the country, Texas lawmakers are pushing to enact sweeping changes to state voting laws, including new restrictions on how and when voters can cast ballots.
At the forefront of that campaign is Senate Bill 7, a legislative priority for Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick that has already passed the Senate and awaits action in the House. The wide-ranging legislation touches almost the entire voting process, taking particular aim at narrowing the latitude local officials have to control voting. It clamps down on early voting rules and hours, restricts how voters can receive applications to vote by mail and regulates the distribution of polling places in diverse, urban counties.
The original bill has already changed in significant ways — revised to eliminate a provision that would have required some voters to provide proof of a disability to vote by mail. But the 38-page bill would still institute an expansive set of changes and new regulations governing Texas elections.
Below is our analysis of the most significant portions of the legislation, with some added context to help Texans understand some of its key provisions.
Limiting how local officials can expand voting options
April 19, 2021 at 1:33 p.m.
In drafting SB 7, Senate Republicans made clear some of its proposed restrictions are meant as a response to voting initiatives implemented by Harris County for the 2020 election, but the proposed new restrictions would apply across the state.
Regulating voting hours