Texas Republicans’ push to enact a slew of recent voting restrictions was stymied — at least for now — by Democrats who walked off the state House flooring late Sunday night time, leaving majority Republicans without the quorum they needed to approve the invoice in the last hours earlier than a midnight deadline.
Their move successfully killed Senate Bill 7 for this 12 months’s legislative session. But it could quickly be revived: Republican Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted Sunday night time that he is adding “election integrity” to an inventory of subjects lawmakers will handle in a particular session he plans to name.
“Legislators might be expected to have labored out the small print once they arrive at the Capitol for the special session,” Abbott stated.
Democrats left the chamber at about 10:forty five p.m., CT, leaving Republican Speaker Dade Phelan to concede that the House did not have the 100 members necessary for a quorum and to adjourn the House for the evening.
Republicans in Texas had sought to join Florida, Georgia and other GOP-controlled states which have seized on former President Donald Trump’s lies in regards to the 2020 election and adopted new restrictions that can make it harder for some of their residents to vote.
It’s not but clear when Abbott will call the particular session. It’s also not clear whether or not Republicans will enter the special session set on approving SB 7 as it’s presently drafted or will search to make further adjustments.
A source tells CNN that Rep. Chris Turner, the House Democratic Caucus chair, sent a textual content message to all of its members at 10:35 p.m., local time, that learn, “Take your key and leave the chamber discretely. Do not go to the gallery. Leave the building.”
Democrats’ decision to go away the House ground and block the bill’s passage got here after hours of contentious debate — including Republicans refusing to take questions from Democrats about what the bill would do.
“We used all of the tools in our toolbox to fight this bill, and tonight we pulled out that final one,” mentioned Rep. Nicole Collier, who chairs the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, during a midnight information convention at a church in East Austin. “We are now not going to face and allow them to continue to push measures that disenfranchise our voters.”
Collier compared SB 7 to poll taxes and different laws which have traditionally made it tougher for Black and Latino folks to vote.
“There’s no widespread voter fraud. And so for them to mislead all of Texas into believing that there’s a problem — we’ll call them out for that,” Collier said. “We may have gained the warfare tonight, but the battle isn’t over.”
Texas House Republicans said Democrats “chose to vacate their Constitutional accountability and depart hundreds of thousands of Texans without resolutions on key issues,” in a tweet posted shortly after the House adjourned.
Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer lambasted Abbott for failing to call special sessions prior to now over Hurricane Harvey, mass shootings within the state, or the coronavirus pandemic, and stated the governor’s willingness to name one to impose new voting restrictions was purely about his own political ambitions.
“We is not going to participate in our personal demise,” Martinez Fischer mentioned. “You might have the votes on the floor, but we’re all equal in federal courtroom.”
Immediately after Democrats broke the House’s quorum Sunday night time, progressive teams celebrated the victory — despite the very fact that it might only be temporary.
“One of the ugliest anti-voter bills in the country died today within the 2021 Texas Legislature. Democratic lawmakers broke quorum in a courageous move that exhibits just how hard Texans are prepared to battle to guard their constitutional proper to vote,” stated Sarah Labowitz, coverage and advocacy director of the ACLU of Texas.
What was within the bill?
The measure would have made mail-in voting tougher by requiring voters to produce more information, prohibiting local elections officers from sending out absentee ballot purposes to anyone who has not requested one or from working with get-out-the-vote groups which are encouraging Texans to vote by mail.
It would have prohibited the after-hours and drive-through options that voting rights advocates mentioned helped Black and Latino voters in the Houston space forged their ballots in the 2020 election.
It would have required all weekday early voting to happen between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. — prohibiting Houston from again offering a 24-hour early voting alternative. And it will have barred early voting on Sundays before 1 p.m., which effectively limits the “souls to the polls” after-church get-out-the-vote efforts that are popular amongst Black churches.
SB 7 would also have made it simpler to overturn an election, allowing courts to throw out outcomes if sufficient ballots had been forged illegally that it might have made a difference — quite than proving that fraud truly altered the outcome of a race.
The bill would even have imposed $1,000-a-day fines on local election officers who do not comply with prescribed procedures to replace their voter rolls, and felony penalties on election employees who obstruct poll-watchers. Those partisan poll-watchers would have seen their energy expanded, allowing them to be “close to enough to see and hear to” election activity. The bill did, nevertheless, mandate that the poll watchers take an oath promising to not harass or disrupt voters or the voting course of.
Democrats’ rare transfer evoked reminiscences of 2003, when the celebration’s Texas House members fled to Oklahoma to block the legislature from adopting new congressional district lines — preventing state troopers from dragging them again into the Capitol to vote.
President Joe Biden on Saturday afternoon condemned the Texas measure, calling it “wrong and un-American” and saying it is “part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this yr — and infrequently disproportionately concentrating on Black and Brown Americans.”
This story has been updated with comment from Texas House Democrats and House Republicans.