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Controversial Texas laws: Gov signs new one, US AG goes after the other

Sep 07, 2021


9/9/21 Update: Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Tuesday the Justice Department is preparing a lawsuit to challenge the Texas abortion law that took effect last week.


Original Story (9/7/21): In Texas, two controversial state laws are making headlines: voting reform and abortion.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a controversial voting bill into law Tuesday.  The video above shows clips from the signing. It comes one day after U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed to protect abortion seekers in Texas after the state’s new abortion bill took effect last week.

The new voting law bans drop boxes for mail-in ballots, makes it a felony to send out unsolicited applications or ballots for vote-by-mail, bans drive thru voting for most voters, and controls the times at which county government can keep polling places open. Opponents say it is too restrictive.

Part of the law does make voting more convenient by extending early voting hours and requiring employers to allow employees to leave work to vote.

“The bottom line of what the law does is what the members around me have said all along: the Texas law, it does make it easier than ever before for anybody to go cast a ballot,” Gov. Abbott said at a bill signing ceremony in Tyler, Texas Tuesday. “It does also, however, make sure that it is harder for people to cheat at the ballot box in Texas.”

The new law is already the target of at least three federal lawsuits, including one filed Tuesday. All of the suits contend the changes will have a disproportionate impact on minorities.

“I feel extremely confident that when this law makes it through the litigation phase, it will be upheld in a court of law,” Abbott said.

Meanwhile on Monday, the Justice Department released a statement regarding Texas Senate Bill 8. The law bans abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which usually happens six weeks into pregnancy.

“While the Justice Department urgently explores all options to challenge Texas SB8 in order to protect the constitutional rights of women and other persons, including access to an abortion, we will continue to protect those seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services pursuant to our criminal and civil enforcement of the FACE Act,” Garland said in a statement. “The FACE Act prohibits the use or threat of force and physical obstruction that injures, intimidates, or interferes with a person seeking to obtain or provide reproductive health services.”

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) Texas: “Now, one thing that all Texans can agree, and that is that we must have trust and confidence in our elections. The bill that I’m about to sign helps to achieve that goal. One thing that it does is it ensures that every eligible voter will have the opportunity to vote. One way that it achieves that is it provides even more hours of time for people to be able to go cast their vote.”

“I feel extremely confident that when this law makes it through the litigation phase, it will be upheld in a court of law, because exactly what we’ve said, it does make it easier for people to be able to go vote. No one who is eligible to vote will be denied the opportunity to vote. It does, however, make it harder for cheaters to cast an illegal ballot.”

“The law does, however, make it harder for fraudulent votes, votes to be cast. One area that makes it harder to cheat concerns mail in ballots. Now mail in ballots, this is an area where both Republicans, as well as Democrats agree has been the easiest way to cheat in the election process. The law that I’m about to sign fixes that problem. Another issue that this law addresses is ballot harvesting. It makes ballot harvesting a third degree felony.”

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