A key Texas Republican blamed a typographical error for a controversial provision of the restrictive voting bill that failed to pass over the weekend, saying Tuesday that he intends to eliminate limits on Sunday morning voting from the proposal.
"Actually, that's one of the things I look forward to with fixing the most," state Rep. Travis Clardy, a Republican on the Elections Committee, said Tuesday on NPR. "That was not intended to be reduced. I think there was a — you know, call it a mistake if you want. What should have been '11' was actually printed up as '1.'"
Democrats defeated the Republican-backed election bill, known as Senate Bill 7, over the weekend by using parliamentary delay tactics and a rare walkout before the legislative session's midnight deadline. Republicans have said they will try again during a possible special session or in the fall. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has threatened to defund the Legislature in response.
Republicans across the country have hurried to implement sweeping voting restrictions, fueled in part by former President Donald Trump's repeated false claims that the 2020 election was stolen through rampant fraud.
As part of a sweeping overhaul of voting rules, the bill would have limited voting on Sundays to the hours of 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Critics said the change was a direct effort to suppress Black voters, whom Democrats and faith leaders have tried to mobilize through "souls to the polls" efforts, when volunteers drive people directly from church to polling places.
While the bill was being debated, Republicans defended the Sunday restrictions, arguing that they were needed to allow poll workers to attend church.
"Those election workers want to go to church, too," said the bill's Republican author, Sen. Bryan Hughes, The Texas Tribune reported. "And so that's why it says 1 p.m. [and] no later than 9 p.m. You can make Sunday service and go after that."
The bill was the result of weeks of legislative activity; different restrictive election bills passed the House and the Senate and headed to a bicameral conference committee, where a mostly Republican team of legislators reconciled them behind closed doors. A final version of the bill sought to ban drive-thru voting, limit voting hours, make it more difficult to cast ballots by mail and empower partisan poll watchers.
Restarting the process for a new session means the bill has to begin the weekslong legislative process again, starting with committee hearings.
Clardy isn't the only Republican signaling probable changes to the legislation in another attempt at passage.
Rep. Briscoe Cain, who authored the House's version, said on Fox News that the defeat would give Republicans an opportunity to improve the bill, which he said included a number of known errors when legislators tried to pass it over the weekend.
"This session, we had trouble with our drafters all sessions long," he said. "We already knew there were errors. We get a redo to go back with a better bill."
Hughes' office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.