Texas Republicans Introduce Extreme Absentee Ballot Restrictions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Texas Republicans continued their efforts to restrict absentee voting in the state on Friday, proposing a new bill in the state Senate that would ban election officials from proactively sending out absentee ballot requests, impose new evidence requirements for people voting absentee due to a disability and more. 

The bill would prevent voters who request an absentee ballot from changing their mind and voting in person — a frequent situation in last year’s election when Republican sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service slowed ballot delivery and forced voters to change their voting plans last minute in order to have their voices heard — unless they return the requested ballot to a polling location. These voters, who would not have requested ballots to return, would be forced to cast a provisional ballot instead. In an attempt to restrict the popular drive-thru voting methods used in Democratic areas of Texas last year, the bill also bans the casting of ballots from a car or in any “facility primarily designed for motor vehicles.”

The move is one of many pushed by state Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R), who this week alone filed seven voter suppression laws in the state Senate. These bills include banning the use of P.O. boxes as registration addresses, cutting funding to local election officials who do not perform frequent voter roll purges and banning jurisdictions from providing expanded voting hours. 

Read the bill here.