GOP Gov. Greg Abbott says drive-thru voting could lead to ‘coercive’ passengers, defends Texas voting restrictions

Greg Abbott texas bar close order
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday defended the proposed GOP-led Texas voting restrictions.
  • On “Fox News Sunday,” Abbott told Chris Wallace that the legislation would not suppress voters of color.
  • Abbott took aim at drive-thru voting, decrying a possible “coercive effect” from passengers.
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GOP Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas on Sunday contended that drive-thru voting, which was a popular method of voting in the 2020 election, could potentially allow passengers to have a “coercive effect” on voters.

During an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace questioned Abbott about the need for the restrictive voting bill up for debate in the current Texas special legislation session and asked if the law would suppress minority voters.

“More than half of the voters who showed up [for these voting options] were people of color. You say you want to make it easier to vote. That’s going to make it harder to vote, and the question is, why make it harder for some Texans to vote unless the point is to suppress voting by people of color?” he asked Abbott.

Abbott argued that counties needed to have policies in place to protect the integrity of their ballots.

“If you do drive-thru voting, are you going to have people in the car with you? It could be somebody from your employer or somebody else that may have some coercive effect on the way that you would cast your ballot, which is contrary to you going into the ballot box, alone and no one there watching over your shoulder,” he said.

Read more: 20 sought-after female political strategists to watch as more women in the US enter politics

Abbott said that populous Harris County, which tested drive-thru voting in a primary runoff election last year before expanding it to the general election, lacked the authority to “create its own election system.”

“With regard to the drive-thru voting, this violates the fundamentals of what – the way that voting integrity has always been achieved and that is the sanctity of the ballot box,” he said.

Harris County is anchored by Houston, a longtime Democratic stronghold.

Wallace also questioned the GOP-led push to halt 24-hour voting centers, which was popular with shift workers who work nontraditional hours.

“If 24-hour voting worked, why not continue it?” Wallace asked.

“We are providing more hours per day for voting to make sure that anybody with any type of background, any type of working situation is going to have the opportunity to go vote,” Abbott said.

The proposed Texas voting law would bar officials from permitting 24-hour voting centers during early voting and would make it a felony for election officials to send unsolicited vote-by-mail applications to voters, among other measures.

Texas Democratic lawmakers are reportedly mulling over whether to leave the state to block the election overhaul from passing, according to The New York Times.

The lawmakers who support leaving the state have argued that the action “would bring a renewed spotlight to voting rights in Texas” and put pressure on Democrats in the US Senate to enact federal voting reforms, according to several Democratic lawmakers who spoke with The Times.

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Georgia Republicans seek to end Sunday early voting, a popular election method for Black voters

Georgia voters
Jon Ossoff, center, speaks with voters in Atlanta on November 3, 2020.

  • Georgia Republican lawmakers unveiled a bill that would impose new absentee voting restrictions.
  • The proposed bill would also end early voting on Sundays, a day popular with Black voters.
  • Many state Republicans are also pushing for added photo ID rules and ballot drop box restrictions.
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GOP lawmakers in the Georgia House of Representatives on Thursday unveiled a sweeping bill that would impose new restrictions on absentee voting and end early voting on Sundays, a day when Black churchgoers often head to the ballot box as part of “Souls to the Polls” voting drives.

The push for additional restrictions comes after President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in the state by roughly 12,000 votes last November, along with the dual victories of Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in last month’s Senate runoff elections.

The proposed legislation, House Bill 531, would mandate photo identification to vote absentee, restrict ballot drop boxes to early voting sites and limit their usage to voting hours, and narrow the window for requesting an absentee ballot, among other changes.

The bill was heard in a legislative committee hearing about an hour after the text of the legislation was released to lawmakers, according to Georgia Public Broadcasting.

That same day, a GOP-controlled legislative committee in the state Senate approved Senate Bill 67, which would mandate a driver’s license number or a photocopy of the voter’s identification when submitting a request for an absentee ballot, effectively ending the signature verification system that was continuously criticized by Trump during his various attempts to overturn the election results.

Just days ago, top GOP officials like Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan couldn’t provide concrete reasoning as to why additional voting restrictions were necessary in the absence of any widespread voter fraud.

“I don’t think we have identified a problem we are trying to solve,” Duncan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I think this is an opportunity ‘to update and modernize’ voting in Georgia.”

Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both Republicans, were excoriated by Trump for not caving to his election pressure campaign; they support photo identification for absentee ballots but have not endorsed any particular bill, according to the Associated Press.

Georgia’s actions follow the pattern of GOP-controlled legislatures across the country that are seeking to impose additional restrictions in the wake of Trump’s reelection loss.

Democrats and voting rights groups were immediately critical of the Republican-backed bill.

“The public, people of color, they didn’t have opportunity to review or to give an opinion and there’s a lot of information in here that needs to be digested and looked at,” said state Rep. Rhonda Burnough. “I think if we’re trying to really work towards restoring confidence that we should be working towards improving everything based on suggestions from the entire state of Georgia, not just us down here in the General Assembly.”

Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group started by 2018 Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, questioned the proposals, along with 27 other groups, who sent a joint letter to top legislative Republicans stating that the proposals “would have devastating consequences for voting rights in Georgia.”

According to Fair Fight Action, 30% of the Georgia electorate are comprised of Black voters, but in 2020 that figure jumped to 36.7% on Sundays, the very day that Republicans seek to eliminate as part of early voting.

Nsé Ufot, founder of the New South super PAC, denounced the proposed measures as race-based voter suppression.

“After stunning losses in the general election and January runoffs, it’s no mystery why Georgia Republicans have rushed to enact restrictions on early, absentee and weekend voting,” she said in a statement. “Georgia Republicans saw what happens when Black voters are empowered and show up at the polls, and now they’re launching a concerted effort to suppress the votes and voices of Black Georgians.”

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