Following a contentious presidential election cycle that prompted countless Americans to question the validity of the outcome and doubt the veracity of the vote totals, state legislatures across the country are exploring ways to restore faith in the integrity of the franchise.
On Thursday, by a vote of 18-13, the GOP-led Texas Senate approved an election reform bill that aims to shorten early voting periods, to prohibit drive-through voting, and to take other key steps designed to ensure that elections are held in a manner citizens can trust, according to the Washington Examiner.
Senate Bill 7 also empowers party-affiliated poll watchers to record video footage that can be submitted to the secretary of State if they believe unlawful activity is taking place on Election Day and restricts the manner in which officials may assist voters by requiring them to complete documentation explaining why help was needed, according to NBC News.
The bill, which now moves to the Texas House for its approval, would also require the state to establish an online portal that would enable voters to track their ballot application status, and to use the system, identification such as a social security number, driver’s license, or other similar document would be required, the Examiner noted.
Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued a statement touting the reforms, saying that the measure “will strengthen the public’s faith in our electoral process and ensure that every Texan knows that when they cast their ballot, their vote is secure.”
Earlier this month, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed into law a series of election reforms in his state that includes limitations on the use of ballot drop boxes, enactment of voter ID requirements, and the placement of additional safeguards on absentee voting processes, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Georgia law has drawn sharp criticism from activists on the left, corporate CEOs, and even Major League Baseball, which pulled its 2021 All-Star game from Atlanta, acquiescing to groups claiming that it will negatively impact minorities’ ability to vote.
Corporations with a large presence in Texas, including Dell Technologies and American Airlines, are now aligning to oppose the reform measures that have passed the state Senate and are now being taken up by the House, according to NPR.
As Lt. Gov. Patrick succinctly put it, “Texans are fed up with corporations that don’t share our values trying to dictate public policy,” and it is not just the right, but indeed the obligation of his state’s legislature to preserve the sanctity of the ballot box and provide free, fair, and trustworthy elections.