Abbott Signs Texas Election Law, Ending a Fierce Voting Rights Battle

It’s been a dramatic, months-long national saga over voting rights, and on Tuesday Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a comprehensive package reforming the state’s elections, which would drastically restrict voting in the nation’s second-largest state.

Speaking to supporters in the state’s reddest region, Mr. Abbott called for similar legislation in other states.

“Harder for folks to cheat at the voting box in Texas,” said Mr. Abbott. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the two Republican sponsors of the law accompanied him as he signed the bill, and he said it would “make it easier than ever before for anyone to go cast a vote.”

In part, Mr. Abbott was alluding to provisions in the law that extend early voting hours by an additional hour on weekdays. However, the legislation contains a number of features that will make it more difficult to vote. In instance, Harris County, which encompasses the Democratic stronghold of Houston, prohibits the use of drive-through polling stations and 24-hour voting, which were implemented last year to make voting easier during the pandemic.

As a result of the new law, absentee voting will be even more restricted. For example, one provision prohibits election officials from sending voters unsolicited absentee ballot applications and from promoting voting by mail, while another restricts the use of drop boxes.

Poll workers who break the regulations will face new criminal and civil penalties under the bill, and those attempting to assist voters in need will face new hurdles, such as the requirement to use a translator.

A number of lawsuits were filed against the measure before Mr. Abbott had even signed it, alleging that various elements violated the Voting Rights Act as well as constitutional amendments.

Updates will be made to this article.