How hard is it to vote in Texas? Here’s what the data shows

(NEXSTAR) — How hard is voting in Texas?

With this year’s midterm elections fast approaching, new data has been released showing that Texas ranks slightly lower among the 50 US states in terms of how easy it is to vote than it was just a year ago – falling to number. 46.

2022 Voting costs in US states The index, published in the Election Law Journal, uses several factors to find the cost of voting, including registration deadlines, voter registration restrictions, voting inconvenience, voting hours and voter ID laws. Each state received an index score, where a negative score actually indicates access to voting. Texas’ score was 1.29, while top-ranked Oregon received -2.54.

The Lone Star State ranked 45th last year, so while that’s not a huge difference, the index’s authors outline why it fell one spot in just a year. Authors Scott Schraufnagel, Michael J. Pomante and Quan Li say Texas Senate Bill 1signed in September 2021, followed the measures taken during the 2020 elections.

The controversial — and challenged — SB 1:

  • 24-hour polling stations prohibited
  • Elevated Identity Requirements
  • Restrictions imposed on drive-thru voting
  • Restrictions imposed on voting by mailincluding making it a state prison felony to send mail-in voter solicitations
  • Allows partisan observers to monitor polling stations

Detractors of SB 1, especially Democrats, say the law is “voter suppression” — especially among communities of color. State Republicans, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, say SB 1 makes it “harder to cheat.”

“All Texans can agree on one thing [on] and that is that we must have trust and confidence in our choices. The bill I’m about to sign helps achieve that goal,” Abbott said in September 2021. “However, the law makes it more difficult to cast fraudulent votes.”

Abbott previously said he was unaware of any fraud that occurred in Texas during the 2020 election, though he added that “voter fraud does arise.”

Many of these changes, the authors of the index explain, however, are only changes in 2020.

“… However, as far as we can tell, the 2020 provisions were not intended to be made permanent, so their prohibition is curious,” the authors wrote.

COVI’s authors say SB 1’s restrictions also put the state in a precarious position if another health emergency like the first COVID-19 outbreak happens again.

The four states with worse index scores than Texas are Wisconsin and Arkansas (1.37 index scores), Mississippi (1.57) and New Hampshire (1.69).

For more information about voting in Texas, visit Vote Texas. Election day is Tuesday, November 8.

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