Democratic lawmakers in Texas walked out of the House of Representatives Sunday night, in a gimmicky gesture that blocked passage of one of the most restrictive US electoral laws before the midnight deadline expired.
Miami World – AP
But victory could be fleeting. The governor, Republican Greg Abbott, was quick to say he would call a special session to try to pass the proposal, but did not say when.
“We have been saying for years that we want more people to participate in our democracy. And it just seems like that’s not the case, ”said Democratic State Rep. Carl Sherman.
The bill, known as Senate Bill 7, would have introduced a battery of changes to eliminate car voting, give more power to party election watchers, and impose new requirements for voting by mail in Texas, which already it has one of the toughest electoral laws in the United States.
About two hours before midnight, when the deadline to pass the rule ended, Democrats began to leave the chamber in larger and larger groups, leaving Republicans without the necessary quorum to hold the final vote. It was a rare defeat for Republicans at the Texas Capitol, where they control every instance of power and have overwhelming majorities in the House and Senate.
“I am disappointed that some members decided to break the quorum,” said State Representative Briscoe Cain, who presented the reform to the House. “We all know what that meant. I understand why they do it, but we all swore to Texans that we would be here to do our job. “
The scene was reminiscent of 2003, when the Democratic minority twice broke the quorum to impede Republican efforts to redraw the electoral maps. House Democrats first left the state in droves and went to Ardmore, Oklahoma, only to return a few days later. That summer, state Senate Democrats delayed a special session by traveling as a group to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for several weeks.
Ultimately, none of the attempts were successful because the Democrats ended up returning to the capitol and the Republicans approved the constituency reform.
In closed-door meetings, Republicans added clauses that could make it easier for a judge to overturn an election and delayed the start of voting on Sunday, when many black parishioners go to vote. The 67-page proposal would also eliminate the option to vote from the car and 24-hour polls, two measures included last year by Harris County, the state’s largest Democratic stronghold.
Texas is the latest great battleground for the Republican Party’s national efforts to toughen electoral laws, fueled by former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Georgia and Florida also passed new restrictions, and the president, Joe Biden on Saturday compared the Texas bill with the electoral changes in those states, which he called “an attack on democracy.”
The vote in the Texas Senate came shortly after a final version of the text was released on Saturday. Around midnight, Republicans took advantage of their majority to suspend the rules that would normally prohibit voting on a law that had not been published for 24 hours. Democrats opposed the operation, which they described as a protocol violation that prevented both the opposition and the public from first reviewing the terms of the text.