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Texas state Senate passes election integrity bill, targeting mail-in-ballots

"I'm not the one trying to make this a national debate," Republican state Sen. Brian Hughes said of the bill.

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Mail-in ballots
Mail-in ballots
(JASON REDMOND/Getty)
Updated: April 1, 2021 - 3:01pm

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The Republican-led Texas Senate passed a bill Thursday limiting mail-in and curbside voting.

The Texas Senate passed the bill by an 18-to-13 vote, largely along party lines, according to CBS Austin.

The bill ends 24-hour voting, limiting hours to 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., and drive-through voting lanes, so that residents must get out of the vehicle and go into polling places to cast a ballot. 

The measure, if passed by the legislature and signed into law, would also prohibit "solicitation" by elected officials at mail-in-ballot boxes. It now heads to the Texas House of Representatives, though it is uncertain when they will vote on it or if Republican Gov. Greg Abbott will sign the bill in law.

State GOP Sen. Bryan Hughes said the bill aims to protect election integrity. He argued that the bill was not meant to limit voting rights and pointed out that he filed a similar bill two years ago, before the allegations of election fraud in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.

"I’m not the one trying to make this a national debate," Hughes said. "I’m talking about Texas."

State Democrats and others disagree. 

"Senate Bill 7 is the worst voter suppression we’ve seen since Jim Crow, a full-on assault on the voting rights of Texans with disabilities and Black and Latino voters," said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, according to The Dallas Morning News.

"Jim Crow" refers to state and local laws on racial segregation in the southern U.S. that existed through the mid-1960s.

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