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ANALYSIS: Just Like Georgia, The New Texas Voting Law Expands Access To The Ballot Box

(Photo by Tamir Kalifa/Getty Images)

Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Earlier this year, Georgia’s new voting law was ripped by Democrats as a set of “racist” restrictions to voter access even though it expanded access to the ballot box. Now, the same thing is happening in Texas.

Texas is attempting to pass an election integrity law that would expand access to the polls, specifically for rural Texans, while outlawing certain pandemic voting measures like drive-through and 24-hour voting, which were at best dubiously legal in the first place, according to the Texas Public Policy Foundation. The Senate version of the bill being considered by Texas legislators is garnering a similar reaction from the left as the passage of “The Election Integrity Act of 2021” in Georgia.

Democrats were clutching their pearls over a completely fabricated narrative that the law restricted early voting hours.

“It’s sick. It’s sick. Deciding that you’re going to end voting at five o’clock when working people are just getting off work,” President Joe Biden claimed on March 25. In a written statement released March 26, Biden doubled down, saying, “Among the outrageous parts of this new state law, it ends voting hours early so working people can’t cast their vote after their shift is over.”

A Washington Post fact check of Biden’s claims found that, in reality, the law still allows polling places for early voting to remain open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and those in line by 7 p.m. are still allowed to vote. For most counties in Georgia, early voting access would actually increase because the law mandates an additional Saturday for polls to be open, according to Georgia Public Broadcasting.

“You can criticize the bill for many things, but I don’t think you can criticize it for reducing the hours you can vote,” University of Georgia political scientist Charles S. Bullock III told The Washington Post. (RELATED: Texas Democrats Make Big Publicity Stunts Out Of Objectively Uncontroversial Voting Integrity Laws)

In the end, the Post gave Biden’s comments on restricting early voting hours four Pinocchios.

Similarly, Texas’ legislation expands early voting hours, especially for rural Texans. Senate Bill 1 would amend Subsection (a) of Section 85.005 to specify that the main early voting polling place in certain counties must remain open for a period of at least nine hours between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. on weekdays that are not legal state holidays. As it stands now, the law simply said polling places must remain open “during the hours that the county clerk ’s or city secretary ’s main business office is regularly open for business.”

When that provision does not apply to the county in question, Subsection (b) expands early voting hours from eight to nine hours each weekday that is not a holiday. In instances where the election “has fewer than 1,000 registered voters,” early voting hours increased from three to four hours.

The Texas bill lowers the population threshold for early voting places to remain open at least 12 hours a day on weekdays that are not holidays during the final week of the early voting period from 100,000 to 30,000. It also adds an additional hour of voting on the last Sunday of the early voting period.

Democrats were arguably most vocally opposed to the Georgia law’s requirement that those requesting an absentee ballot provide I.D., their state I.D. number or the last four digits of their social security number. (RELATED: One Major Flaw In Democrats’ Voting Rights Argument)

“This is Jim Crow in the 21st Century,” a statement from the president read. “It must end. We have a moral and Constitutional obligation to act.”

Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren also compared the law to Jim Crow, tweeting, “The Republican who is sitting in Stacey Abrams’ chair just signed a despicable voter suppression bill into law to take Georgia back to Jim Crow.”

Failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams also said the new Georgia voting provisions “are nothing less than Jim Crow 2.0.”

However, any Georgia resident can obtain a free I.D. card from a county registrar’s office by providing proof of residency, as well as other information like proof of citizenship and their social security number. Approximately 98% of Georgia’s population has an identification card or driver’s license, according to CNN.

If passed, Texas’ new voting law would also require voters to provide either their driver’s license number, state I.D. or the last four digits of their social security number in order to request an absentee ballot, according to Business Insider. It would also create a process for mail-in ballots that are rejected for some reason to be corrected by its proper owner, the Texas Tribune reported.

In Texas, a resident may acquire a photo I.D. by proving their residency, identity, citizenship status or lawful presence, and providing their social security number. The I.D. does not expire for six years and is $16 for individuals under the age of 59. A 2017 study by the University of Houston found that nearly all eligible non-voters had photo I.D.s in Texas, reported The Washington Post.

However, White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated in the wake of Democratic lawmakers fleeing Texas to try and stop the passage of the new law that bills like that of Texas’ are the “worst challenge to our democracy since the Civil War.”