WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the Texas Legislature continues to debate omnibus voting bill Senate Bill 7, a Republican-led state Senate committee is considering a provision that would significantly cut the number of polling places in the state’s most populated urban counties — reducing the number of locations in districts where Democrats have been elected to the U.S. House.
A report by the Texas Tribune analyzed a new formula that Republicans want to apply to the five largest counties in the state, which would distribute polling places across a county based on its share of state House district voters — a formula that would cause Democratic districts to lose 60 polling places while districts represented by Republicans would gain 60. The areas that would lose polling places are disproportionately Black and Hispanic. The move comes after urban counties in Texas abandoned the precinct-based voting model and allowed residents to vote at any polling location. This same strategy has been used in rural Texas counties for many years, but S.B. 7 would only target the five largest urban counties, significantly cutting the number of polling sites and redistributing polling locations towards more Republican-leaning areas.