Special session required in order for Senate Bill 7 to pass

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Texas Republican leaders are determined to push forward with the election bill that would change the way Texans vote.

Lawmakers will have to convene for a special session in order for Senate Bill 7 to become law following the Texas Democrats' efforts to delay the legislative session last Sunday.

In an interview with ABC13 Anchor Melanie Lawson, Texas Governor Greg Abbott indicated he has not made an official decision for a special session just yet and explained what's next in the process.

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"The way the legislative session works for legislators, their work is done, and they are gone from the Capitol now," Abbott said. "I still have to work all the way through June the 20th where I have well over 1,000 bills on my desk that I have to go through and evaluate whether or not I will sign them or veto them, including the budget issue that you raise, as well as calling an additional special session and if so, what items would be on that session. Bottom line is, those are decision that will be made in the coming days."

In its latest draft, the bill would eliminate 24-hour voting, drive-thru voting and voting on Sunday morning.

It also puts restrictions on mail-in voting and increases access to poll watchers, including when Texans can cast their ballots.

Those who oppose the bill believe it will significantly impact communities of color.

Political Science professor for Rice University Paul Brace said if a special session is called, and the bill moves forward to become Texas law, people could see fewer polling locations, potentially longer wait-times in lines and changes in voting hours.

"The supposed motivation for these laws is that there is a lot of voting fraud, but there's been no evidence of voting fraud," Brace said. "The Republicans are under substantial pressure, I think, to pass legislation like this that will make it more difficult for people to vote, and those burdens tend to fall more heavily on minority communities."

Democratic leaders, including in Harris County and Houston officials are looking to the federal government to help suspend or delay the bill from becoming law.

"The Democrats delayed this, and they were given an opportunity to delay it because Republicans came down to the wire," Brace said. "But in the long run, the Democrats won't be able to stop this, I don't think, given their minority status in the Texas legislature."

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