When our legislators tackle election reform, improving citizens' access to the polls must always be their North Star. Making it easier for Texans to vote and protecting their ballots are not incompatible standards, and we welcome measures that do both through clear, simple and reasonable rules.
That is why we are relieved that Texas lawmakers improved a controversial piece of legislation known as Senate Bill 7 by adopting common-sense initiatives that increase voter access and ballot safety. As we have said before, there is no evidence of rampant voter fraud, but that doesn't mean we should categorically dismiss any proposed reform to our elections system.
The latest version of Senate Bill 7, which the House passed last week, would create an online tool to allow voters to track their application to vote by mail and their ballot.
A provision in the bill would also require courts to inform defendants how a felony conviction will limit their voting rights. The bill also requires the secretary of state to send voter registration forms to high schools, a move that would invite students old enough to vote to participate in civic life.
We favor another key reform to forbid election officials from distributing mail-in ballot applications to voters who haven't solicited them. Mass-mailing these applications, even if the intended recipients are only people eligible to vote by mail, can be problematic, considering some voters don't update their addresses and that many voters simply don't want the materials.
We discourage lawmakers from embracing complicated formulas to determine the distribution of polling sites and equipment in large counties, which could harm minority communities and almost certainly invite a lawsuit. The focus should be on improving voter access.
Texas can brag about many things, but voter turnout is usually not among them. We hope our lawmakers don't lose sight of what should be a universal goal: inviting more citizens to participate in our democracy.
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS