As Republicans Advance Voting Laws, Democrats Scramble to Push Back



“The state is going to need to basically provide a justification that outweighs any potential burden on the right to vote,” said Justin Riemer, the chief counsel for the R.N.C. “And the fact of the matter is, the Democrats will be unable to provide evidence that shows that these laws actually impair voting rights and make it harder to vote.”

Instead, Mr. Riemer saw the lawsuits as an attempt to force Democrats in Washington to act.

“They’re trying to have Congress solve the problem for them by actually imposing a new legal standard for bringing these claims,” Mr. Riemer said.

In Texas, a flurry of late amendments and procedural moves were still unable to halt the Republican bill from being passed at 3 a.m. on Friday. The bill, which became slightly less restrictive after the late-night adjustments, still greatly empowers partisan poll watchers, bars election officials from proactively mailing out absentee ballots, and sets strict punishments for election officials who run afoul of regulations while helping voters who require assistance.

Hours after the bill passed, Democrats in Texas looked to Congress for help.

“Democrats will continue to work together to quickly pass federal legislation that ensures the rights of the people to vote are protected in all 50 states,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party.

In the hours between Mr. DeSantis’s signing of the Florida law and Texas House Republicans’ passing their voting bill early Friday, progressive groups spoke out about their desire for Congress to pass Democrats’ big election bills, the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

The For the People Act, which is far broader, would mandate national automatic voter registration and no-excuse early voting and mail-in voting; neuter restrictive state voter identification laws; and create independent redistricting commissions for congressional districts and new dark-money transparency measures. The John Lewis act would reinstitute the federal preclearance requirement for changing election laws.

The For the People Act has passed the House and remains stalled in the Senate, where Democrats lack both 60 votes to avoid a filibuster and an agreement among themselves over whether the legislation can proceed with a simple majority vote. The John Lewis bill has not yet passed the House.


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