Today, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the Election Integrity Act Protection Act of 2021. The state legislature passed S.B. 1 in order to make election rules “uniform and consistent” across Texas. Before the Governor even put pen to paper, liberal groups filed lawsuits in courts in San Antonio and Austin, claiming voter suppression of urban voters. 

Fairness is what is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment in the right to “equal protection under the law.” Here’s what’s in the state election integrity law.

On August 31, Governor Abbott praised the state legislature for passing an election reform with provisions that expand voting access uniformly through the state:

Senate Bill 1 creates uniform statewide voting hours, maintains and expands voting access for registered voters that need assistance… and gives voters with a defective mail-in ballot the opportunity to correct the defect. 

The Texas reform would stop some rogue officials from applying different rules than the rest of the state. Different rules are unfair because they favor some voters over others within the same state, and actually create confusion and depress voting in some communities of eligible voters.

Consider the application of this argument in election races to sports games. Imagine if, in a baseball game, the referee in the American League changed the rules and allowed 4 strikes instead of 3 strikes, but the National League stayed with 3 strikes and you’re out. Even if the team with the advantage still lost the World Series, the advantage for the American League would be fundamentally unfair.

During the 2020 elections, only one urban county offered drive-thru voting and sent 2 million mail-ballot applications without requests from the voter, a special election initiative not offered to any of the other voters in the 253 other counties in the state. The state legislature passed “curb-side” outdoor voting for access for voters with mobility disabilities and older voters who had difficulty entering the polls. However, one county official acted rogue—without the support and equal coordination across the state—to change the rules only for his county. 

The State’s Chief Election Officer, charged with ensuring each county in Texas applies the state-wide rules uniformly, instructed the urban county to stop changing the vote-by-mail ballot rules, because it would actually result in disenfranchisement and confusion for eligible voters:

[V]oters who submit deficient applications to vote by mail after a certain date may not receive notice that they must attend the polls in person… The Election Code cannot give the Harris County Clerk the implied power to cause such confusion and disenfranchisement…Flooding Harris County with millions of unrequested applications on the eve of an election may thus prevent the timely processing of those who are eligible to vote by mail.

But such laws intended to assist voters in need can be abused. Prior to 2020, Texas has prosecuted voter fraud for illegal mail ballot harvesters who manipulated such disability and older voter access rules.

Just as Texans in Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth would want the Astros and Rangers to play by the same rules of baseball, the Texas legislature wants to make election rules uniform for all. Each of the 254 counties in Texas—urban and rural—should apply the same rules for elections.