Texas lawmakers say election legislation is about giving urban and rural voters ‘same access’

Legislation would make election rules uniform across all Texas counties

Gov. Greg Abbott
Gov. Greg Abbott (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday expressed support for Republican state lawmakers’ efforts to overhaul election rules during the legislative session, which could drastically change how urban areas of the state operate its polling places.

Abbott appeared alongside State Rep. Briscoe Cain and State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, who have been spearheading “election integrity” efforts, which was deemed an emergency item by the governor following the 2020 general election.

Abbott said the bills proposed to the legislature would bolster trust in a free and fair election and root out election fraud, a Texas constitutional obligation.

Despite the increased attention on election security, Abbott said he is unaware of any Texas election in 2020 that was altered due to voter fraud.

“What I can tell you is this. Any voter fraud that takes place sows seeds of distrust in the electoral process,” Abbott said.

Republicans want to establish “a concept of uniformity” in elections across the state, making early voting hours the same across the state. That would increase rural voters’ access to the polls, but handcuff urban areas like Harris County, who increased drive-through voting locations and established a 24-hour polling place.

“That makes it fair,” Cain said. “It helps rural Texans feel like they have the same opportunity as urban Texans.”

The election bills have been sharply criticized by voting advocacy groups like MOVE Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project, who believe the bills would suppress voters rather than increase access.

“MOVE Texas condemns in the strongest terms the Governor’s blatant attempts to suppress the voices of eligible voters in our state. We must give Texans the tools and opportunities they need to cast their ballots in upcoming elections,” the group said in a statement. “Our very Democracy is founded on the right for free and fair elections. Every voter who wishes to exercise their sacred right to vote should be able to do so in the most convenient and secure way possible regardless of what Abbott, Briscoe Cain, and Paul Bettencourt think.”

Republican statehouses across the country have submitted legislation to overhaul election laws.

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