Gov. Greg Abbott signed an elections bill into law Tuesday in Tyler that adds new rules for mail-in voting, increases early voting hours and, Abbott said, makes it harder for people to cheat.
Abbott signed the bill alongside state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, who authored Senate Bill 1, and spoke about how the newly signed law will make it easier for people to vote in Texas elections.
The rewrite of Texas’ voting laws is the target of at least three federal lawsuits — including another filed Tuesday — and all contend the changes will have a disproportionate impact on minorities. Abbott and other Republicans say it expands access by increasing the minimum number of early voting hours, but the law also puts new restrictions on late-night voting.
“I feel extremely confident that when this law makes it through the litigation phase, it will be upheld,” Abbott said. “Because exactly what we’ve said, it does make it easier for people to be able to go vote. No one who is eligible to vote will be denied the opportunity to vote.”
Abbott signed the bill 100 days after Democrats kicked off a summer of last-ditch maneuvers by walking out of the state Capitol to temporarily block the measure. That was followed by more than 50 Democrats flying to Washington, D.C., in July to thwart the bill for a second time, which led to Republicans issuing civil arrest warrants in an effort to compel Democrats to return, although no one wound up being forced to come back.
But the protests did not wind up significantly changing the bill, underscoring Republicans’ determination to pass the measure and the strength of their commanding majority in the Texas Capitol.
Also at the news conference at the Plaza Tower in downtown Tyler were Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and state Rep. Andrew Murr, who authored the bill’s counterpart in the House.
Near the downtown square, about 60 protestors gathered to object to the voting legislation and to another recently signed law — Senate Bill 8, which bans abortions in Texas after six weeks and onward into a pregnancy.
Abbott said he chose to sign the bill Tyler because it is in Hughes’ district. Hughes also carried the bill about new abortion restrictions in the state.