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The Texas state Senate passed a sweeping election overhaul bill on May 30 that has been criticized by high-profile Democrats over provisions that they say expands restrictions and penalties.
The legislation was approved largely along party lines after an overnight debate stretched into the morning of May 30, according to local media. The House had a deadline of midnight on May 30 to approve the proposal.
The measure would grant more power to poll watchers by giving them more access inside polling areas, while creating new penalties against election officials who restrict poll watchers’ movements. The proposal would also allow a judge to void the outcome of an election if the number of fraudulent votes could change the result.
Officials who send mail-in ballots to people who didn’t request them may also face criminal penalties, according to the bill.
Previously, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signaled that he supports such election measures.
According to a tweet from the Texas District and County Attorneys Association, at least 16 new or enhanced crimes related to elections were included in the bill.
State Sen. Bryan Hughes, a Republican, said that the measure would keep Texas’s elections fair and honest.
“We want elections to be secure and accessible,” said Hughes, who authored the bill, according to the Dallas Morning News.
During the Senate session, Hughes said his bill has “common sense” mandates against fraud, the Texas Tribune reported.
“The provisions of this bill apply equally across the board,” Hughes said in response to allegations from Democrats that the bill would restrict minority voters.
Over the weekend, President Joe Biden weighed in on the bill, alleging in a statement that it “attacks the sacred right to vote.”
“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.
The president wasn’t the only high-profile Democrat to weigh in on the Texas bill.
“The Texas law is shameful and Republicans clearly, in Texas and throughout the country, want to make it harder to vote and easier to steal an election,” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), a member of House Democrats’ leadership, told CBS News on May 30. “That’s the only way I can interpret the voter suppression epidemic that we see working its way from one state, Georgia, to Arizona to Texas and all across the country.”
Marc Elias, a lawyer who has filed a number of election-related lawsuits on behalf of Democrats, signaled that he will file a lawsuit in the coming days.
“States to watch for NEW voting rights litigation (in order of likelihood) 1. Texas,” he wrote on Twitter on May 30.
Elias also filed a lawsuit to challenge an election integrity bill that was signed into law in Florida several weeks ago.
In addition to Florida and Texas, a number of Republican-led states have pushed for or have passed laws meant to add new safeguards to elections, drawing considerable condemnation from Democrats, who have claimed Republicans are trying to rig voting in their favor.
In mid-May, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican, signed a bill that updated the eligibility requirements to remain on the state’s early voting list in a bid to make elections more secure.
Arizona lawmakers approve bill vetting voters for citizenship before they can vote
Arizona lawmakers approved new voter restrictions that supporters said ensure only U.S. citizens can cast ballots but opponents said will wipe countless voters off the state’s rolls.
A unanimous Republican caucus approved House Bill 2492 on Wednesday in the Senate, sending the legislation to Gov. Doug Ducey for consideration.
While Arizona is one of the few states that already require proof of citizenship before registering to vote, residents can bypass that by registering for a federal-only ballot under the National Voter Registration Act and can vote on federal contests.
HB 2492 would require counties to check those individuals for citizenship against multiple databases. Counties must reject any federal applications if they find the individual is not a U.S. citizen. Any official knowingly ignoring the requirement could be charged with a Class 6 felony.
Democrats accused Republicans of seeking to purge the voter rolls as revenge for the 2020 general election, where President Joe Biden narrowly defeated former President Donald Trump.
“This is absurd, illogical and discriminatory,” Sen. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson, said.
Constitutional analysts told GOP lawmakers in another hearing the bill presents some issues that could face a legal challenge. Opponents were quick to note that in debate.
“We are voting on a bill that is unconstitutional and has a tremendous impact on the voters of the state of Arizona,” Sen. Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix, said. “There are many provisions in this bill that are offensive, and that will have a negative impact on some communities more than others.”
Republicans said their legislation simply ensures U.S. citizens are the only ones voting in U.S. elections.
“The issue is making sure the citizens of this country are voting,” Sen. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, said. “If you’re not a citizen of this country, you’re not allowed to vote. We have over 35,000 people registered to vote where we are not certain whether they’re citizens or not.”
The bill passed along partisan lines. Democrats gathered in Phoenix on Thursday to pressure Ducey to veto the legislation.
US Senators Question Motives of AT&T For Refusing To Renew OAN Contract…Cite AT&T Board Chairman’s Ties To Dominion Voting Machines
Two U.S. Senators, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, have written an official letter to AT&T inquiring into its politically-motivated decision to cut One America News Network (OANN) from DirectTV. Cruz and Lee both press the AT&T Board of Directors for answers regarding the “personal financial” influences that may have swayed the company’s decision.
The decision to not renew its contract with OANN was announced by DirecTV in mid-January. DirecTV, which is primarily run by AT&T, has a contract with OANN that is set to expire in early April.
In response to this major decision, President Trump spoke out at an Arizona rally, saying, “This is horrible. This is a great network. These are great people. I watch it all the time and you really get the truth. And they want to cancel them now because of politics – for purely political reasons. It’s a disgrace what’s going on.”
“I don’t think that people are gonna stand for it,” added Trump.”Maybe what we should do is not use AT&T.”
On Tuesday, Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz submitted a letter to the members of the AT&T Board of Directors, expressing “grave concern for the future of journalism and political discourse in America.”
They then listed six specific facts/concerns regarding the issue:
- One American News Network (“OAN”) is being sued for alleged defamation by Dominion Voting Systems.
- Dominion Voting Systems is owned by Staple Street Capital.
- William Kennard is on the executive board of Staple Street Capital
- William Kennard is also the Chairman of AT&T’s board of directors
- AT&T owns 70% of DirecTV, and controls two seats on DirecTV’s board of directors
- DirecTV has decided not to renew its contract with OANN.
The main concern pointed out by Lee and Cruz is that William Kennard, the Chairman of AT&T’s board of directors and executive board member of Staple Street Capital, is pushing to end its contract with OANN to benefit his personal financial interests.
The Senators then request a response to the following question within 10 business days: “Did any employee or agent of AT&T at any time convey or suggest to any employee or agent of DirecTV an instruction or request not to renew OANN?”
Read the full letter below:
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