NAACP Pledges Immediate Lawsuit Over Texas Voter Suppression Bill

The Lone Star State is the latest to try to make it harder to cast a ballot.

Sergio Flores/Getty

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

Texas already has some of the country’s most restrictive voting laws, and, accordingly, some of the lowest voter turnout. Now, after a dark-of-night political maneuver on the second-to-last day of the state’s legislative session, Republican lawmakers in the Texas Capitol are on the verge of making voting even harder. On Sunday morning, just before sunrise, the Senate approved a bill containing a broad array of voting restrictions that Democrats say are designed to suppress turnout of Black and Hispanic Texans.  

If the bill passes the state House of Representatives and is signed by Gov. Greg Abbott—both of which are expected—the Texas chapter of the NAACP will immediately file a lawsuit against it, chapter President Gary Bledsoe said at a news conference Sunday afternoon, the Dallas Morning News reports. 

The bill would ban drive-through voting and 24-hour voting, both of which were used extensively last year in and around Houston, according to the New York TimesAmong its many restrictions, the bill would limit voting by mail for people with a disability, add new ID requirements for mail-in voting, and make it a felony for election officials to send mail-in ballots to voters who did not request them. And it would set limits on early-voting hours, such as requiring polls to open at 1 p.m., not 9 a.m., on Sundays—which could impact popular “Souls to the Polls” held by many Black churches, the Morning News notes:

Bledsoe specifically cited concern with the bill’s limits on early voting hours because that method is disproportionately used by Black and Latino voters. He also took issue that it further empowers partisan poll watchers and puts new criminal penalties on voting officials and assistants, he said.

“That’s going to have a chilling effect on folks wanting to be election officials because now if you make a simple mistake you may have committed a felony. That’s serious business,” he said. “We need to protect our election officials so we can continue to do business in our communities.”

In order to pass the bill, state lawmakers suspended rules requiring legislation to be public for 24 hours before receiving a final vote. Democrats reportedly planned to try to stop it in the House using procedural actions.

The Texas bill is one of hundreds of voter suppression bills introduced in state legislatures this year, as my colleague Ari Berman has reported. Heritage Action for America, a conservative dark money group, was involved in orchestrating some of the bills, according to leaked video of the group’s executive director—including Texas’ effort, Berman writes:

Texas is the next big fight for Heritage. [Executive Director Jessica] Anderson said Heritage Action wrote “19 provisions” in a Texas House bill that would make it a criminal offense for election officials to give a mail ballot request form to a voter who hadn’t explicitly asked for one and would subject poll workers to criminal penalties for removing partisan poll challengers who are accused of voter intimidation. It’s expected to pass in the coming days. 

“Gov. Abbott will sign it quickly,” Anderson said. She warned of corporate opposition to the bill, following actions by Georgia-based companies to distance themselves from the restrictive voting bill there. “American Airlines, Dell, they’re coming after us,” she said. “We need to be ready for the next fight in Texas.” 

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate