image sourceGetty Imagesimage captionVoting by car, as this Texan did in 2020, is now banned

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed into law an overhaul on voting rights that introduces sweeping restrictions on ways Texans can cast ballots.

The enactment of the Republican bill marks a bitter defeat for Democrats, who had fled the state in July in an effort to prevent it from passing.

The law includes a ban on drive-through and 24-hour polling places, and adds ID requirements to vote by mail.

It comes amid a wave of proposed voting restrictions in Republican-led states.

At least 18 states have enacted new voting restrictions since the November 2020 presidential election, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

  • The high-stakes battle over US voting rights

"Election integrity is now law in the state of Texas," Mr Abbott said in a bill signing ceremony on Tuesday.

At least 50 House Democrats boarded two private jets from Austin, Texas to Washington DC in July to prevent Republicans from holding a vote on the package.

Republicans argue the measures are essential for election security. Democrats and civil rights groups say the bill disproportionately burdens or discourages voters from ethnic minorities, as well as the elderly and disabled.

Drive-through voting, they cite, was credited with encouraging record voter turnout in the city of Houston.

Here's what the bill does:

  • Scraps 24-hour polling sites
  • Adds new ID requirements to vote by mail
  • Prevents election officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballots to voters
  • Forbids voting on Sundays before 13:00
  • Makes it harder to remove partisan poll watchers and grants them "free movement" in polling places
  • Creates monthly citizenship checks

There were no substantial allegations of fraud during elections last year in Texas.

Republicans have maintained a grip on all state-wide offices there for three decades, and Texas had some of the most restrictive voting measures in the US even before this bill. Three federal lawsuits have already been filed in an effort to block the bill from taking effect.

The move is the latest action from the conservative Republicans in Texas, after earlier this month they succeeded in their effort to ban most abortions.