(CNN)The Texas House of Representatives passed an election overhaul bill Friday that would add new voting restrictions and penalties, the latest effort in a slew of Republican-pushed initiatives nationwide that seek to curtail voting access.
The GOP-led House passed Senate Bill 7 early Friday afternoon, on a 78-64 largely party line vote. It will next head back to the Senate.
Due to the bill being significantly rewritten in the House, it will likely end up in a conference committee, where members appointed from both chambers will work largely behind closed doors to pull from both the House and Senate approved versions to create a final bill. The language developed there will likely be the final version that would end up on the governor’s desk.
The Texas legislative calendar ends on May 31.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday praised GOP lawmakers for advancing the bill.
“This bill will help ensure that we have trust & confidence in the outcome of our elections,” Abbott wrote on Twitter. “One step closer to my desk & making it TX law.”
Earlier Friday, the House advanced the legislation roughly nine hours after it was introduced on the floor. There were 18 amendments adopted in an after-midnight session after intense behind-the-scenes negotiations led by Democrats to soften some of the bill’s language on criminal penalties.
The overall effort amounts to additional restrictions and penalties to the voting process out of an ostensible desire to address voter fraud, though no evidence of fraud in the 2020 election in Texas has been presented.
The current House version of the bill does not include some of the Senate version’s more controversial provisions, including a ban on drive-through voting and a requirement for an applicant voting by mail on the ground of disability to state they have a sickness or physical condition that prevents them from going to the polls. However, since these measures were included in the Senate-passed version of the bill, they could be added back to a final version if it goes to conference.
Democrats were also able to add amendments that allow for the removal of poll watchers who breach the peace, as well as softening criminal penalties for voters who didn’t realize they were ineligible and decriminalizing some simple, basic mistakes made by volunteers and election judges.
The legislation, however, would still ban county officials from sending unsolicited mail-in ballot applications.
Other provisions in the Senate version, which passe
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