Studies consistently rank Texas at the top of the list of states that make it more difficult to register and vote, which is, in part, why Democrats view the stakes as so high.
Although reorganized from the regular session, the ballot bills in both houses resurrected most of the ingredients of the original legislation. Both would ban 24-hour voting and drive-thru voting sites, increase criminal penalties for election workers who violate regulations, limit the assistance that can be provided to voters, and extend the authority and autonomy of observers. supporters of the poll.
But the latest bills drop two contentious first-round provisions that Democrats had fiercely opposed, removing a limitation on Sunday voting and a provision that would have made it easier to quash an election.
For this weekend’s hearings, Democrats and voter advocacy groups opposed to the bills had assembled witnesses from across the state to testify.
State Senator Borris Miles, a Democrat from Houston, said two buses full of witnesses and a 20-car trailer made the trip from his district. Mr. Miles and Lina Hidalgo, chief executive of Harris County, the state’s most populous, told reporters the bills would take a heavy toll in the Houston area by dismantling electoral innovations, such as voting 24 hours a day, which have been put in place. held in the 2020 elections.
“We are under attack,” Mr. Miles said.
After belatedly starting the measurement of the vote by spending hours on a bail review bill, the House committee worked through the night to hear from many of the more than 300 witnesses who had registered to testify. Several people who were still waiting in the committee room after dawn began to joke about the early hour and expressed their gratitude to Trent Ashby, the Speaker of the Republican House, for not interrupting the testimony.
“Hello, Mr. Chairman, thank you for staying,” said Hector Mendez, representing the Texas College Democrats group. “Happy 6.30am to all of you,” said another witness.