WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Republican lawmakers have introduced more than 20 bills into state legislatures that may change the way many states, including Texas, will vote in future elections.
Political experts say those proposed bills could limit early voting hours and times, making it harder to get and return absentee ballots and possibly turning voters away from the polls for good.
“I have never in my life been as afraid for our country as I am right now because when you make it harder for people to vote our vote is the only real voice we have,” said Janel Ponder-Smith, Chair of the Wichita County Democratic Party.
Republican governors at the head of states across the country are proposing changes that may impact those who depend on early voting.
“If we make mail-in ballots harder, if we make the early voting shorter, where it’s harder for them to find the time because of their handicap or their age, young people who work and have kids and maybe have two jobs, they have to be able to work in when they can vote,” said Smith.
Political experts say Texas already has strict absentee laws and it’s hard enough to get a ballot in the first place. Tightening up on those restrictions, they feel, will only make things worse.
“I do think this is a situation where people like Governor Abbott are caught between what we’re seeing at the national level and some of the push from the people at the local level. To go along with some trends at the national level that really don’t match what’s going on in Texas,” said Steve Garrison, Professor of Political Science at Midwestern State University.
Those experts also say opening polls beforehand makes the voting process easier and more accurate; something Wichita County saw during the November presidential election.
“We all know what can happen in a single day one problem one glitch technological issue can drag out the whole process,” said Garrison.
“I told all my election workers to be ready because it’s going to be long lines, going to be out the door, it’s going to be a long day and it was just steady. All of the people had come out during early voting,” said Smith.
By the time the state legislature ends in May, it will be decided whether or not these proposed bills will become law. The next major election for Texas will be a race for governor, which may or may not look a lot different.