A segregationist term from the Jim Crow era referring to the “purity” of ballots was yanked at the last minute before the Texas House passed a measure restricting voting.
Eighteen amendments — 13 of them from Democrats — were added to the Republican election bill before it was passed 78-64 Friday.
But an initial fight was over the bill’s statement of purpose. It initially said that said the measure was designed to “preserve the purity of the ballot box” — a phrase “drafted specifically to disenfranchise Black voters following the Civil War,” Democratic Rep. Rafael Anchía told bill sponsor Rep. Briscoe Cain (R).
“Are you aware of the history of that?” he asked in comments on the floor.
“No, I’m sorry to hear that … Those are troubling things,” Cain said.
Cain later noted that he’d be willing to agree to an amendment to change “purity” to “integrity or something,” reported the Austin-American Statesman. The word was stricken from the bill.
The measure would increase regulations on voting by mail, create several new election-related crimes, and boost protections for partisan poll watchers. It could make it a felony for someone to give a person a vote-by-mail application unless they requested one.
Anchía argued that Texans were more likely to be struck by lightning than to encounter the vote fraud GOP lawmakers insist they’re addressing.
“You know what undermines confidence in our elections? It’s the lies that are told in the face of all contrary evidence by politicians for their own and their party’s political gain,” said Anchía.
The bill passed along party lines and now goes to a conference committee, where lawmakers will resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill.
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