It’s a sequence of events that has played out over and over across the U.S.: GOP lawmakers propose a bill they say will prevent voter fraud. Their Democratic colleagues – languishing in the minority – call it a cynical ploy to disenfranchise voters, yet they are unable to stop it.

At 3 a.m. Friday morning, Texas joined the growing list of Republican-led states that have pushed forward legislation making it more difficult to vote. Differences in versions of the bill passed by the Texas House and Senate must be resolved, but Governor Greg Abbot has pledged to sign it.

From The Wall Street Journal:

The Texas bill would reduce flexibility within the election code and make its penalties more severe. It would bar public officials from distributing applications for mail-in ballots and empower partisan poll watchers. The state Senate previously approved a different version of the bill that limits early election hours, prohibits drive-through voting and allows poll watchers to photograph people voting. Those measures could be reinstated.

Texas Democrats, emboldened by support from community groups and corporations that wrote an open letter opposing the legislation, scored some minor concessions during an all-night debate. NBC News reports:

The key vote happened around 3 a.m., after a marathon 17 hours of session including hours of questioning and amendments from Democrats, who didn’t have the votes to stop the bill but sought to make its passage painful and slow.

In addition to changing criminal penalties, Democrats also secured a requirement that the state create a ballot tracking system online for mail voters.

Sarah Labowitz, policy and advocacy director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, called the bill “extreme,” noting that it would make participating in democracy “harder and scarier.”

Voting rights activists are particularly worried about the poll watcher provision. More from NBC:

Democrats had also warned that empowering poll watchers could make it easier for partisan officials to intimidate voters. Republicans in Harris County already plan to recruit thousands of Republican poll watchers, particularly in the suburbs of Houston, and send them into communities of color in Houston’s urban center.

On Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed a similarly restrictive voting bill. The New York Times reports on other states that are trying to curb access to the ballot:

Ohio, another state under complete Republican control, introduced a new omnibus voting bill on Thursday that would further limit drop boxes in the state, limit ballot collection processes and reduce early in-person voting by one day, while also making improvements to access such as an online absentee ballot request portal and automatic registration at motor vehicle offices.

Iowa and Georgia have already passed bills that not only impose new restrictions but grant those states’ legislatures greater control over the electoral process.

Accord to the Brennan Center for Justice, which tallies bills designed to curb voting, legislators have introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states as of March 24th. “That’s 108 more than the 253 restrictive bills tallied as of February 19, 2021 — a 43 percent increase in little more than a month,” their analysis finds.