WASHINGTON, D.C.—A new bill proposed by Republican representatives in Texas would essentially create a two-tiered voter registration system, in an effort to evade federal voting rights protections that could pass into law this year. HB 4507 establishes two different registration processes: one for federal elections, which would be required to comply with national legislation such as the For the People Act, and one for state elections, which Texas Republicans claim could ignore these federal requirements. Any voter registering to vote in a federal election would not be automatically registered for local and state elections, unless they meet the much stricter and more exclusionary requirements of Texas’s Election Code. Instead, they would have to apply and register again separately for their local elections.
The bill is a confounding complication of voter registration processes, establishing incredibly complicated and unintuitive barriers that will surely have the effect of reducing voter turnout and suppressing voters’ voices. Republican lawmakers are pre-emptively bending over backwards to avoid complying with potential federal voting rights legislation that could pass this year, like the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, in order to keep as many of their current voter suppression laws in place as possible.