Democrats Walk Out, Blocking Texas Voting Legislation

For now—governor has promised to call a special session
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 31, 2021 12:03 AM CDT
Updated May 31, 2021 5:19 AM CDT
Democrats Walk Out, Blocking Texas Voting Legislation
House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, talks to Republican members of the Texas House before the start of the debate of Senate Bill 7, known as the Election Integrity Protection Act, at the Capitol on Sunday, May 30, 2021, in Austin, Texas.   (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

A restrictive voting bill in Texas that was on the verge of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk failed to pass Sunday night after Democrats walked out of the House chamber before a midnight deadline, the AP reports. Abbott swiftly said he would call a special session to try passing a voting bill again but did not say when. About two hours before a midnight deadline to pass the bill, Democrats began filing out of the chamber in greater and greater numbers, denying Republicans the quorum necessary to hold a final vote. The walkout handed Republicans a rare defeat in the Texas Capitol where they control every lever of power and wield overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate. “I am disappointed that some members decided to break quorum,” said Republican state Rep. Briscoe Cain, who carried the bill in the House.

The bill known as Senate Bill 7 would have imposed a raft of election changes that eliminate drive-thru voting, empower partisan poll watchers, and impose new requirements in order to cast a ballot by mail in Texas, which already has some of toughest voting laws in the nation. Under revisions during closed-door negotiations, Republicans added language that could make it easier for a judge to overturn an election and pushed back the start of Sunday voting, when many Black churchgoers head to the polls. The 67-page measure would also eliminate drive-thru voting and 24-hour polling centers, both of which Harris County, the state’s largest Democratic stronghold, introduced last year.

(More Texas stories.)

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