Controversial voting bill SB1 passes Texas House, predicted to pass Senate

Big changes could come to how Harris County and the way Texas conducts elections. Some of the big pushes made during the last election cycle with drive-through voting and extended hours would be made illegal if SB1 passes.

The nearly 50-page bill passed the House Friday and many believe it will pass the Senate to be later signed by Governor Abbott.

The bill will bring many changes, including a new ID requirement for those seeking to vote by mail. Voters would be required to include a driver's license number or last four digits of a Social Security number.

Voter assistance would be changed for those who are elderly or disabled. For those who help assist, they will have to fill out a document, listing their name, address, and relationship to the voter. They will also have to take an oath.

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"To me, there are real concerns over this bill, it erects new barriers to voting," said Rep. Jon Rosenthal.

Rep. Rosenthal, who was part of the over 50 Democrats who broke quorum, voted no for SB1 and believes these extra steps will be a hassle. 

"Extra requirements and forms for those who assist voters, even if it’s a family member of yours, make it more difficult for these folks," said Rosenthal.

He tells FOX 26, he knows the burden personally with his father who is hard of sight. 

"His vision isn’t very good and last time he went to go vote in person, he needed a little help with the voting machine," said Rosenthal.

For the GOP, it is a big win, co-author and Senator Paul Bettencourt spoke with FOX 26 Friday. 

"It really does make it easier for Texans to vote and harder to cheat," said Bettencourt. 

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Bettencourt says he expects to continue to see the record-high turnout at the polls. Saying the bill will have a new a citizenship verification process and an online portal for those who are disabled to look at their absentee ballot.

"The citizenship check is an important part of recognizing the obvious voting is a privilege for citizens," said Bettencourt. "I expect to continue to see record-high turnouts due to the interest in voting in the public."

After the last election, an investigation was conducted by Texas’s Attorney General, Ken Paxton. That investigation found 16 ballots to have incorrect or improper addresses.