- People in Texas who wanted to testify about a bill that would introduce new voting restrictions waited for 17 hours, the Texas Tribune reported.
- Nearly 300 people — mostly opposed to the legislation — signed up to testify about the bill, according to the report.
- The GOP-backed legislation in the state would limit 24-hour voting, drive-thru voting, and voting-by mail.
Texans who wished to testify before the state legislature Saturday about GOP-backed measures to introduce new voting restrictions had to wait for up to 17 hours, the Texas Tribune reported.
Some people arrived Saturday morning at the Texas State Capitol as early as 6 am, according to the report, but they wouldn’t get the opportunity to speak until after 1:40 am on Sunday.
Many of the 295 people who signed up to testify before the House had arrived by 8 am on Saturday, according to the Tribune, and most of them came to speak in opposition to Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3, the Republican attempts to enact tougher voting restrictions.
The bills aim to enact restrictions on voting local voting initiatives, including drive-thru voting, 24-hour voting, and voting by mail. The bills would prohibit local elections officials from proactively sending out mail-in ballot applications and allow for more partisan poll watchers, according to the Tribune.
Republicans in state legislatures across the US have taken up measures to enact harsh voting restrictions after many states expanded voting initiatives in last year’s election due to the pandemic. Former President Donald Trump and his allies have long blamed his loss to non-existent fraud in the election, of which there is no evidence.
New restrictive voting laws have been enacted in at least 17 states so far this year, according to data collected by the nonprofit Brennan Center for Justice. Opponents of these GOP-backed measures argue that such attempts to limit voting are often steeped in racism.
According to the Tribune, the bills being considered by Texas lawmakers mirror the voting legislation that caused Democratic lawmakers to walk out at the end of the state’s legislative session in May.
The new legislation, however, lacks some of the more controversial measures of the previous bills, which called to restrict voting on Sundays and would’ve allowed elections officials to overturn election results if they were allegations of voter fraud, according to NPR.
In total, 484 people showed up to register their position on the legislation, the Tribune reported. The vast majority — 407 people — said they were opposed to the bills, while 65 were in support, and 12 said they were neutral.
Public testimony in the House would not be allowed until 17 hours after the meeting first began — at 1:41 am Sunday, the Tribune reported.
The House meeting began at 8 am, but lawmakers spent much of the day discussing another piece of GOP-backed legislation, according to the report. Discussion of the voting restrictions began at 5:30 pm Saturday, but lawmakers spent the following four hours questioning the bill’s author.
Testimony began earlier in the Senate, but people hoping to make a public comment still waited until after midnight to offer their comments, which posed difficulties for those living with disabilities, people who had to go to work, and people who relied on public transportation, the Tribune reported.