(Headline USA) Opponents of a Republican election integrity bill in Texas sued Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday, going to court even before he had signed into law changes to protect the state’s vulnerable elections.
Two lawsuits, filed in separate federal courts in Texas, are believed to be the first to challenge the far-reaching measure known as Senate Bill 1, which the Legislature approved this week.
Abbott said he would sign it, which could happen within days.
The challenges were brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, disability and minority rights organizations, and the elections administrator for Harris County, which includes Houston.
To try to flip the state blue, Texas’ largest county — which is a Democratic stronghold — last year offered 24-hour polling and drive-thru voting locations, and tried to send every registered voter a mail-in ballot application.
All of those options, which gave Democratic voters more opportunities to cast legal or illegal ballots, would be outlawed under the bill.
The lawsuit argues that the bill would violate the federal Voting Right Act and intentionally discriminate against minority voters.
“We cannot allow our democracy to be undermined by these blatantly illegal voting restrictions aimed at disenfranchising communities of color and voters with disabilities,” said Ryan Cox, senior attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project.
Republicans say the bill provides safeguards against voter fraud.
They also point out that it would increase the minimum number of hours during early voting and expand the number of counties where polls would have to stay open for 12 hours.
“Protecting the integrity of our elections is critical in the state of Texas, which is why Governor Abbott made election integrity an emergency item during the regular legislative session and worked to ensure its passage by calling special session after special session ensuring uniform statewide rules,” Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze said in a statement.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.