A draft of the bill was circulated around the state House and Senate Saturday, and the legislature is expected to pass the legislation and send it to GOP Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk shortly.
The bill would ban drive-thru voting and 24-hour voting and would require voters to request absentee ballots rather than allowing election officials to send applications to all voters, and curtail the use of drop boxes. It sets early voting hours from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
“It’s part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year—and often disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans,” Biden said in a statement. “It’s wrong and un-American.”
He called on Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, two Democrat-led voting bills that seek to expand voting access, particularly to minority communities.
It would also ban using temporary structures as a voting facility and would strengthen access for poll observers. It also imposes new penalties for poll workers who violate rules in a way that is deemed to interfere with the voting process.
Texas is one of a number of Republican-led states including Arizona, Georgia and Florida that has moved to enact voting restrictions in light of the 2020 election. But unlike some other states where results were contested, former President Trump won Texas handily.
The bill’s author, state Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, said the legislation would help to protect voters and prevent future election crimes. He said it wasn’t in response to the 2020 elections, which he deemed were fair.
“The Constitution commands the legislature to pass legislation to attack fraud and to preserve the purity of the ballot box, and I’ve seen a lot of polling suggesting the trust in our elections process is down,” he said, according to FOX 4 of Dallas/Fort Worth.
But some groups argue the bill targets people of color and the disabled.
“SB 7 is a ruthless piece of legislation. It targets voters of color and voters with disabilities, in a state that’s already the most difficult place to vote in the country,” Sarah Labowitz, policy & advocacy director of the ACLU of Texas, said in a statement. ” The defining message of the 2021 Texas legislature is clear: Political leaders chose to punish their constituents instead of fixing the electrical grid or providing pandemic or blackout relief.”