The final version of the voter suppression bill is out

It’s bad.

Emerging from closed-door negotiations between the Texas House and Senate, a GOP priority bill to enact new restrictions on voting has swelled beyond what each chamber originally passed to limit local control of elections and curtail voting options, and now includes even more voting law changes.

Worked out by a conference committee after the two chambers passed substantially different pieces of legislation, a draft of the final version of Senate Bill 7 takes from both iterations to cut back early voting hours, ban drive-thru voting and further clamp down on voting-by-mail rules. It also now includes various additional rule changes that weren’t part of each chamber’s previous debate on the bill. Lawmakers are expected to formally sign off on the agreement in the next day and send it to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature before it becomes law.

The draft of the final bill keeps in its crosshairs initiatives used by Harris County during last fall’s general election — such as a day of 24-hour early voting and voting sites that allowed voters to cast ballots from their cars — that proved particularly popular among voters of color. But the legislation will also block local efforts to expand voting options across the state.


The bill has been negotiated over the last week out of the public eye after the House slimmed down the bill and swapped out all of the Senate’s proposals with language from a different House bill that was narrower in scope. But a draft of the final version of SB 7 ultimately brought back many proposals from the Senate’s more expansive version, including the ban on drive-thru voting.

The legislation requires more counties to offer at least 12 hours of early voting each weekday of the last week of early voting, but sets a new window of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. for voting. This would directly preempt Harris County’s 24-hour voting, which it planned to keep for future elections. It would also slightly shorten the extra hours other large counties offered in the last election by keeping their polling places open until 10 p.m. — three hours past the usual 7 p.m. closing time — for at least a few days.

The draft also sets a new window for early voting on Sundays, limiting it from 1 to 9 p.m.

The SB 7 draft also makes it a state jail felony for local officials to proactively send mail-in ballot applications to voters who did not request them. This is another response to Harris County, where officials attempted to send applications to all 2.4 million registered voters last year. Other Texas counties sent applications to voters 65 and older without much scrutiny. Although those voters automatically qualify to vote by mail, mailing unrequested applications to them in the future would also be banned.

Counties would also be prohibited from using public funds “to facilitate” the unsolicited distribution of ballot applications by third parties, which would keep them from also providing applications to local groups helping to get out the vote. Political parties would still be free to send unsolicited applications on their own dime — a practice regularly employed by both Republicans and Democrats.

The final version of the bill further tightens voting-by-mail rules by establishing a new requirement for voters requesting a ballot to provide their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number, if they have one. That language comes from separate Republican bills that failed to pass on their own.

Voters will also be required to include that information on the return envelopes containing their ballots for their votes to be counted.

Beyond its new restrictions on voting rules, the SB 7 draft expands the freedoms of partisan poll watchers. Currently, poll watchers are entitled to sit or stand “conveniently near” election workers. SB 7 would entitle them to be “near enough to see and hear” the election activity. The draft also adds language to the Texas Election Code to allow them “free movement” within a polling place, except for being present at a voting station when a voter is filling out a ballot.

Provisions dropped by the conference committee include a controversial measure that would’ve allowed poll watchers to record voters receiving assistance filling out their ballots if the poll watcher “reasonably believes” the help is unlawful. That change had raised particular concerns about the possible intimidation of voters who speak languages other than English and voters with disabilities who would be more likely to receive help to vote.

So all the work done by Democrats to make the bill less bad was undone. The restrictions on voting locations were taken out, which is a good thing, but there’s not much beyond that. Here’s a good summary:

Read through the thread, and get ready for what’s coming. I have no idea if there’s any prospect for a point of order or Senate filibuster to kill this, and I suspect that even is such a thing did happen Greg Abbott would give Dan Patrick the special session he’s craving anyway. There will be litigation, and we’ll just have to see how that goes. In the end, it will come down to what it always comes down to: We have to win enough elections, now not jut to stop crap like this, but to undo it. It’s going to be a huge job, and it will take a lot of time. But what other choice do we have?

UPDATE: No time wasted in the Senate.

In the course of several hours Saturday and early Sunday, Senate Republicans hurtled to move forward on a sweeping voting bill negotiated behind closed doors where it doubled in length and grew to include voting law changes that weren’t previously considered.

Over Democrats’ objections, they suspended the chamber’s own rules to narrow the window lawmakers had to review the new massive piece of legislation before giving it final approval ahead of the end of Monday’s end to the legislative session. This culminated in an overnight debate and party line vote early Sunday to sign off on a raft of new voting restrictions and changes to elections and get it one step closer to the governor’s desk.

Senate Bill 7, the GOP’s priority voting bill, emerged Saturday from a conference committee as an expansive bill that would touch nearly the entire voting process, including provisions to limit early voting hours, curtail local voting options and further tighten voting-by-mail, among several other provisions. It was negotiated behind closed doors over the last week after the House and Senate passed significantly different versions of the legislation and pulled from each chamber’s version of the bill. The bill also came back with a series of additional voting rule changes, including a new ID requirement for mail-in ballots, that weren’t part of previous debates on the bill.

But instead of giving senators the 24 hours required under the chamber’s rules to go over the committee’s report, including those new additions, state Sen. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, moved to ignore that mandate so the Senate could debate and eventually vote on the final version of the bill just hours after it was filed.

Around 6 p.m. Saturday, Hughes acknowledged the Senate would consider the report “earlier than usual” but tried to argue he was giving senators “more time” by alerting them about his plan to debate the final version of SB 7 at 10 p.m.

“That’s a nice spin,” state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, shot back.

Remember when complaints about the original bill’s voter suppression tactics were met by rebuttals that we needed to “read the bill”? Yeah.

Related Posts:

This entry was posted in That's our Lege and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to The final version of the voter suppression bill is out

  1. Lobo says:

    Vote was 18 ayes 13 nos on adoption of conference committee report at ca 6am.

    Senate adjourned until 1:30 today.

  2. Lobo says:

    Last Action: 05/30/2021 S Senate adopts conference committee report

    All 229 pages of Conference Committee Report, scanned but made searchable PDF here:

    Typo correction: nos should read nays

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    If we eliminate the anomaly of 2020, this isn’t restricting anything. MORE early voting hours are prescribed here, including from 1-9 pm so the black churchgoers can take their non profit, supposedly non partisan church buses to block vote straight Democrat. That’s a big win for Dems, and an incredibly unfair EXPANSION of voting rights. The Republicans screwed the pooch on that, and I don’t know why Dems aren’t celebrating that one right now. Maybe they are, but are too smart to say the quiet part out loud.

    Wanna bet if white Republicans were using their churches, and church buses, to proselytize for Republican candidates and take their white bread souls to the polls, it would be absolutely horrific and we’d be talking about pulling tax exempt status from those churches? But hey, black churches, y’all go ahead and flout the law, because hey, the rules don’t apply to blacks. Black privilege alert!

    MORE hours of early voting are prescribed than ever before in Texas. As to the rest, yeah, voting is too important to just mass mail applications out wiilly nilly. If you want one, and qualify, request one, and return it by mail, with the same kind of ID you’d have to show if you voted in person. And hey, return those mail in ballots the same way you got them, in the mail. That will make any fraudsters subject to federal mail fraud charges. If there’s no fraud, nobody should be afraid of using the US Mail to mail their mail in ballots.

    So, what was ‘lost’ really?

    All night voting. I guess this might be unfair to our vampire-American community, but I don’t like vampires, so screw them. Put on sunscreen or just vote from 8-10pm, when it’s dark anyway.

    Voting from your car for people who are perfectly able to walk across the parking lot and vote in the polling place, AKA lazy f’s. Texas has an obesity problem. Getting out of your car and walking is good for you. Stop whining. Walk in like everyone else and stop mocking those who actually cannot walk in. It’s insulting to the disabled, especially our wounded vets and KIA, who suffered and died so you could bitch about drive through voting. Pathetic.

    I didn’t see much about it, but I’m assuming ‘drop off’ ballot boxes for mail in ballots was the subject of much shrieking and angst. Assuming those ballot boxes were limited…..if you got a mail in ballot…..MAIL it! We already know you’re able to make it to your own mailbox. Put the filled out ballot back IN your mailbox, and voila! [Blue’s Clues] We did it! We did it! [Blue’s Clues]

  4. Manny says:

    Bill, what kind of weed are you smoking? White churches, baptists, evangelicals are notorious for pushing white racist candidates, the satan pedophile type.

  5. Bill Daniels says:


    They don’t use their church buses to shepherd their parishioners to vote. That’s a black thing, so they can go vote for black racist candidates like Sheila Jackson Lee, Al Green, and other noted white hating, segregationist, CBC racists.

    Satan pedophile types? Here ya go:

    “And, you know, I’m honored to be joined today by Governor Northam and by two great representatives of the Commonwealth: Congresswoman Luria and Congressman Scott. And I want to thank — thank you for all that you do to represent these service veterans, because they’re devoted to you; for the family members, the caregivers, survivors who call Virginia home.

    I’m especially honored to share the stage with Brittney, and Jerdan, and Nathan, and Margrit Katherine. I love those barrettes in your hair, man. I tell you what — and look at her; she looks like she’s 19 years old, sitting there with her — like a little lady with her legs crossed. (Laughter.)

    Brittney, you’re doing triple duty: as a veteran, a military spouse, and a teacher. And, kids, thank you for being there for your mom.

    I can remember all those times — and all of you remember, the spouses — when your husband or wife are deployed. Every morning, you wake up, you say that little extra prayer while you’re drinking your coffee. You just spend a little more time wondering. ”

    Just for the record, Brittney is….SIX YEARS OLD.

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    Errata: Brittney’s daughter is 6 years old, not Brittney. Brittney is the mother, who had to sit and smile as a sick old lech hit on her little girl in front of everyone.

  7. robert says:

    If the GOP told Bill to eat a sh*t sandwich, he’d do it and tell us why everyone should, smh

  8. Michael says:

    Welp, first quorum break since 2003. Monday’s gonna be interesting.

  9. Manny says:

    Bill, I am glad that you admit that baptists and evangelicals mostly white, use their church to promote hate, racism, bigotry, and murder of born people. That is what can expect from devil worshippers.

Comments are closed.