• Fri. Sep 17th, 2021

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Texas Republican blames typo for proposed Sunday voting limits

A key Texas Republican blamed a typographical error for a controversial provision of the restrictive voting bill that failed to pass last month, saying on Tuesday he intends to eliminate the Sunday morning voting limits from the proposal.

“Actually, that’s one of the things I look forward to with fixing the most,” state Rep. Travis Clardy, a Republican on the House Elections Committee, said Tuesday on NPR. “That was not intended to be reduced. I think there was a — you know, call it a mistake if you want. What should have been 11 was actually printed up as one.”

Democrats defeated the Republican-backed election bill known as Senate Bill 7 over the weekend by utilizing parliamentary delay tactics and a rare walkout before the legislative session’s midnight deadline. Republicans have said they will try again during a possible special session or in the fall. Gov. Greg Abbott has threatened to defund the legislature in response.

Republicans across the country have hurried to implement sweeping new voting restrictions, fueled in part by former President Donald Trump’s repeated false claims that the 2020 election was stolen through rampant fraud.

As part of a sweeping overhaul of voting rules, the bill would have limited voting on Sundays to the hours between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. Critics said the change was a direct effort to suppress Black voters, who Democrats and faith leaders have in the past tried to mobilize through “souls to the polls” efforts, when volunteers drive people directly from church to polling places.

While the bill was being debated, Republicans defended the Sunday restrictions, arguing it was necessary to allow poll workers to attend church.

“Those election workers want to go to church, too,” said Republican bill author Sen. Bryan Hughes, according to the Texas Tribune. “And so that’s why it says 1 p.m. [and] no later than 9 p.m. You can make Sunday service and go after that.”

The bill was the result of weeks of legislative activity; two different restrictive election bills passed the House and Senate before heading to bicameral conference committee, where a mostly-Republican team of lawmakers reconciled the two versions behind closed doors. A final version of the bill sought to ban drive-thru voting, limit voting hours, make it more difficult to cast mail ballots and empower partisan poll watchers.

Restarting the process for a new session means that the bill has to begin the lengthy weeks-long legislative process again, where it will start with committee hearings.

Hughes’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.