WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed Senate Bill 1111 on Wednesday. The bill, passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature at the end of its session last month, imposes new limits on what type of addresses voters can use to register to vote and allows county officials to require additional verification if they suspect a voter’s registered address is not where they reside.
The law states that voters cannot register to vote using any address where they do not live full time and that they “may not establish residence for the purpose of influencing the outcome of a certain election.” If a voter is suspected of registering with an invalid address, a city official can now require additional verification documents from the voter — but only a handful of residency documents are accepted and none can be sent back to the county via a P.O. box. These arbitrary new barriers will restrict ballot access for voters who move around a lot, students and homeless voters who often utilize the P.O. boxes of churches and other organizations to register to vote. And, the provision that voters may not establish residence with the intent to vote adds unnecessary, vague and confusing restrictions for young and first-time voters who legally register in the place they attend school or where they have recently moved.
S.B. 1111 is one of many smaller voter suppression bills that Texas Republicans pushed through as they continue to fight for Senate Bill 7, an omnibus suppression bill that was blocked by a Democratic walkout last month.