USA: President Joe Biden has lashed out at Republicans in Texas for their efforts to increase election integrity in the state, calling the proposed legislation an “assault on democracy.” But the voting laws in his home state of Delaware, where he served as a Senator for 30 years, has much stricter voting laws.
Biden said in a statement to the Texas Tribune:
Today, Texas legislators put forth a bill that joins Georgia and Florida in advancing a state law that attacks the sacred right to vote. It’s part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year — and often disproportionately targeting black and brown Americans.
A comparison of Texas Senate Bill 7 and Delaware voting laws reveals that Delaware voting laws are not just stricter but much narrower.
In Texas, according to the Texas Tribune, early voting is actually increased under the legislation:
The legislation requires more counties to offer at least 12 hours of early voting each weekday of the last week of early voting, but sets a new window of 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. for voting.
According to the Ballotpedia, there is no early voting in Delaware.
In Texas, voters who are 65 or older are automatically eligible to vote by mail. The voting legislation would prohibit mailing unrequested voting registration materials using public funds, but people in both parties can do so but at their own expense.
The Tribune reported:
SB 7 also makes it a state jail felony for local officials to proactively send mail-in ballot applications to voters who did not request them. This is another response to Harris County, where officials attempted to send applications to all 2.4 million registered voters last year. Other Texas counties sent applications to voters 65 and older without much scrutiny. Although those voters automatically qualify to vote by mail, mailing unrequested applications to them in the future would also be banned.
Counties would also be prohibited from using public funds “to facilitate” the unsolicited distribution of ballot applications by third parties, which would keep them from also providing applications to local groups helping to get out the vote. Political parties would still be free to send unsolicited applications on their own dime — a practice regularly employed by both Republicans and Democrats.
In Delaware, you can register to vote by mail, but voting by mail was only put in place in the state for the 2020 election because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In Texas, if the bill becomes law, poll watchers would have more access to election activities, including being close enough to hear and see what is taking place with the exception of being where a voter is casting a ballot.
According to the Delaware Online website, there are strict poll watching laws in Delaware:
The Delaware Department of Elections will turn away citizens attempting to enter voting locations Tuesday to serve as “poll watchers.”
The state allows people credentialed by party officials to serve at polling places as “challengers,” but there’s no room — legally or otherwise — for average citizens who believe it’s their duty to ensure the sanctity of the voting process.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement on the future of the legislation after Democrats walk out ahead of a vote on it.
At the beginning of the legislative session, I declared Election Integrity and Bail Reform to be must-pass emergency items. It is deeply disappointing and concerning for Texans that neither reached my desk. Ensuring the integrity of our elections and reforming a broken bail system remain emergencies in Texas, which is why these items, along with other priority items, will be added to the special session agenda.
“I expect legislators to have worked out their differences prior to arriving back at the Capitol so that they can hit the ground running to pass legislation related to these emergency items and other priority legislation,” Abbott said. “During the special session, we will continue to advance policies that put the people of Texas first.”
By Penny Starr