Greg Abbott's desk, and Democrats are on the verge of a crushing defeat in a long-running, bitter battle over voting rights.
After a last-minute amendment to one of the few bipartisan provisions, the bill was passed by the GOP-controlled chamber. This language was intended to protect voters convicted of felony from being prosecuted if they vote without being aware of their ineligibility.
The rest of the legislation was sparked in part by the false claims of President Donald Trump of a stolen electoral election. This sparked a heated summer of Texas protests by Democrats and Republicans, who threatened them with arrest. Abbott vetoed the paychecks for thousands of rank and file staffers after new election law did not reach him sooner. There were also accusations of racism, voter suppression, and other charges.
"The emotional reasons not voting for it is that it creates hardships to people because of their color of their skin or their ethnicity," stated Democrat Garnet Coleman. He was a state representative who returned to the Capitol earlier in the month, ending a 38-day standoff.
The Senate was expected later Tuesday to pass the bill and send it to Abbott. Abbott has already indicated that he would sign it.
The new language was added to clarify that the person must have known they were voting illegally to be subject to prosecution. Despite having support from the House, the Senate rejected it just as the bill was about to be finalized.
This was done in response to the backlash after the illegal voting arrests made by two Texans. They claimed they didn't realize that the law bars people on parole, probation, or supervised release from voting. The two voters were Black which intensified the criticism in a wider fight over voting restrictions, which opponents claim disproportionately affect people of color.
Lawmakers specifically invoked the case of Crystal Mason, who was sentenced to five years in prison in 2018 for casting a provisional ballot in the 2016 presidential election when she was on probation. Her provisional vote was not counted and is currently being appealed.
The House passed the resolution, 119-4.
Dustin Burrows, Republican State Representative for Colorado, stated that "you should not be sent to jail for five year under these circumstances."
A sweeping GOP election bill, which Texas Democrats fought this summer over new voting restrictions, was not modified in any way. Republicans across the country have rushed tighter election laws to counter President Donald Trump's false claims of a stolen 2020 election.
Two times, Democrats walked out from the Capitol to temporarily bock it. This included a 38-day standoff in one of the longest quorum breaks ever recorded in Texas history. Some of the 50 Democrats who fled Texas to Washington, D.C. in July did not return, and others that remained unsure said they felt betrayed.
The bill would restrict how and when voters can vote in Texas' booming, fast-changing state. Texas has seen decades of Republican victory on Election Day. The bill would remove expanded voting access, which Texas' largest county had implemented during the COVID-19 epidemic.
Harris County, which encompasses Houston, is a major source for Democratic votes. It offered 24 hour polling places, drive through voting, and even tried to send mail-ballot applications last year to 2 million voters. Under the bill headed to Abbott, all of this would be banned.
Republicans claim that critics of the bill's impact are exaggerated. They emphasize that it would add an additional hour of early voting each day and expand the number counties that must provide 12 hours of early voter registration on weekdays.
Mason's illegal voter arrest isn't the only one that has drawn criticism from Democrats, voting rights groups, and others. In July, Hervis Rogers was arrested on charges of illegal voting because he cast a ballot while still on parole after waiting more than six hours in line during the 2020 presidential primary.
These cases attracted national attention, angering critics who saw them as Republicans trying to be tough in rare instances of improper voting. Based on past elections, the Brennan Center for Justice ranked the risk for ballot fraud at between 0.00004% and 0.0009% in 2017.