Something peculiar happened last week when few people were looking: Texas lawmakers approved legislation that might make it easier for thousands of people to vote. And they didn’t let politics get in the way. A day after House Republicans and Democrats spent six hours bickering over voter identification requirements, the Legislature sent Gov. Greg Abbott a separate proposal — backed by both parties — to simultaneously curb voter fraud at nursing homes and widen ballot access to elderly Texans who live in them.
“I relish the moments where we can do things that actually help people without politicizing it,” Rep. Diego Bernal, a San Antonio Democrat who sponsored the bill, said as he was decompressing from a legislative session that ended with a kerfuffle-gone-viral on the House floor.
Along with separate provisions that benefit voters with disabilities, House Bill 658 would create a process for collecting absentee ballots at nursing homes and similar facilities. It would essentially turn them into temporary polling places during early voting to discourage facility staffers, political operatives or others from trying to manipulate residents’ votes, a well-documented threat surrounding such vulnerable voters.