Nonetheless, the bill includes a provision that could make overturning an election easier. Previously, Texas election law had stated that reversing the results of an election because of fraud accusations required proving that illicit votes had actually resulted in a wrongful victory. If the bill passes, the number of fraudulent votes required to do so would simply need to be equal to the winning vote differential; it would not matter whom the fraudulent votes had been cast for.
A day before the Texas bill emerged, a new report pointed to the vast sweep of Republicans’ nationwide effort to restrict voting.
Amid months of false claims by former President Donald J. Trump that the 2020 election was stolen from him, Republican lawmakers in many states are marching ahead to pass laws making it harder to vote and changing how elections are run, frustrating Democrats and even some election officials in their own party.
- A Key Topic: The rules and procedures of elections have become a central issue in American politics. The Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal-leaning law and justice institute at New York University, counts 361 bills in 47 states that seek to tighten voting rules. At the same time, 843 bills have been introduced with provisions to improve access to voting.
- The Basic Measures: The restrictions vary by state but can include limiting the use of ballot drop boxes, adding identification requirements for voters requesting absentee ballots, and doing away with local laws that allow automatic registration for absentee voting.
- More Extreme Measures: Some measures go beyond altering how one votes, including tweaking Electoral College and judicial election rules, clamping down on citizen-led ballot initiatives, and outlawing private donations that provide resources for administering elections.
- Pushback: This Republican effort has led Democrats in Congress to find a way to pass federal voting laws. A sweeping voting rights bill passed the House in March, but faces difficult obstacles in the Senate. Republicans have remained united against the proposal and even if the bill became law, it would likely face steep legal challenges.
- Florida: Measures here include limiting the use of drop boxes, adding more identification requirements for absentee ballots, requiring voters to request an absentee ballot for each election, limiting who could collect and drop off ballots, and further empowering partisan observers during the ballot-counting process.
- Texas: The next big move could happen here, where Republicans in the legislature are brushing aside objections from corporate titans and moving on a vast election bill that would be among the most severe in the nation. It would impose new restrictions on early voting, ban drive-through voting, threaten election officials with harsher penalties and greatly empower partisan poll watchers.
- Other States: Arizona’s Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill that would limit the distribution of mail ballots. The bill, which includes removing voters from the state’s Permanent Early Voting List if they do not cast a ballot at least once every two years, may be only the first in a series of voting restrictions to be enacted there. Georgia Republicans in March enacted far-reaching new voting laws that limit ballot drop-boxes and make the distribution of water within certain boundaries of a polling station a misdemeanor. Iowa has also imposed new limits, including reducing the period for early voting and in-person voting hours on Election Day. And bills to restrict voting have been moving through the Republican-led Legislature in Michigan.
As of May 14, lawmakers had passed 22 new laws in 14 states to make the process of voting more difficult, according to the report by the Brennan Center for Justice, a research institute.
In last year’s election, while Republicans won Texas easily — Mr. Trump carried the state by more than 630,000 votes and the party maintained control of both chambers of the Legislature — turnout soared in cities and densely populated suburbs, which are growing increasingly Democratic. In Harris County, home to Houston and one of the biggest counties in the country, turnout jumped by nearly 10 percent.
Republicans’ initial version of the bill put those densely populated counties squarely in the cross hairs, seeking to ban measures put in place during the 2020 election that helped turnout hit record numbers. The initial bill banned drive-through voting, a new voting method used by 127,000 voters in Harris County, as well as 24-hour voting, which was held for a single day in the county and was used by roughly 10,000 voters.
While those provisions were left out of an earlier version of the bill as it made its way through the Legislature, they were reinstated in the final version of the bill, though the bill does allow for early voting to begin as early as 6 a.m. and as late as 9 p.m. on weekdays. It also maintains at least two weekend days of early voting.
More than any other state, Texas has also gone to great lengths to grant more autonomy and authority to partisan poll watchers. The observers have been a cornerstone of American voting for years, viewed as a watchdog for election officials, but their role has grown increasingly contentious, especially in Texas. Republican poll watchers have been egged on in particular by Mr. Trump, who implored them to go to major cities around the country and hunt for nonexistent voter fraud.