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Controversial Texas voting law expected to advance with return of Democrats

Texas State Capitol (Photo: KTSA/Elizabeth Ruiz)

 

▶ Watch Video: Texas House expected to pass controversial Republican voting restrictions bill

Republican lawmakers in Texas are expected to advance a controversial bill Thursday that Democrats say would limit people’s ability to vote. This comes after more than 50 Democratic lawmakers fled to Washington, D.C., last month, breaking quorum to block the
bill.

The legislature reached quorum on August 19 when enough lawmakers returned to Texas. Breaking quorum “raised the awareness” of the bill, state Representative Garnet Coleman told CBS News correspondent Mireya Villarreal.

Coleman, whose district includes a portion of Houston, acknowledged it was important for the lawmakers to return to Texas.

“I don’t think we’ll gain anything by being away,” he said. “At some point, we have to fight on the floor and actually represent our constituents in that way.”

The bill bans drive-thru and 24-hour voting, increases ID requirements for mail-in ballots, gives more powers to partisan poll watchers and limits voter assistance. The bill’s opponents say it will hurt voters with disabilities as well as Black and Brown communities in Texas, who disproportionately used drive-thru and overnight voting last year.

“I expect a vigorous debate,” said Texas House Republican James White, who sponsored the bill. “Some people call it election integrity. Some people call it suppression. I’ll work with them to get undesirable things out of the bill so we can get it passed.”

Coleman believes the fight stretches beyond the state line. A lot of Democratic state legislators believe the federal John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would keep states from passing laws that could suppress voters. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the new legislation this week, but it faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

Voting rights groups have challenged many new state voting laws in court, and lawsuits are expected in Texas.


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