The drama over new voting rules in Texas continues to escalate: A Democratic lawmaker donned sneakers and a back brace Wednesday evening before she began speaking on the Senate floor—then continued speaking and standing for 15 hours, until Thursday morning, reports the Texas Tribune. Under state rules, State Sen. Carol Alvarado could not eat, drink water, or take a bathroom break during her filibuster. It was all part of her attempt to at least slow down passage of voting rules that she and other critics say are designed to suppress minority votes. Republicans deny that and say the rules are intended to curb fraud. Alvarado's filibuster ended up being only a symbolic gesture, however. As soon as she wrapped up, the state Senate voted 18-11 to pass the new voting rules. They remain in legislative limbo, however, because Democratic House members continue to be AWOL.
"My friends, voter suppression anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere," Alvarado said near the end of her filibuster, per the Washington Post. "Do we want our state to be more or less inclusive? ... Instead of making it easier to vote, [this bill] makes it easier to intimidate. Instead of making it harder to cheat, it makes it harder to vote." Among other things, the legislation would bar drive-thru and 24-hour voting and is filled with "simple, common sense reforms," says GOP sponsor Sen. Bryan Hughes. The Senate developments played out after the Texas House speaker signed arrest warrants for more than 50 Democratic lawmakers who refuse to return to the state Capitol to prevent Republicans from getting a quorum. The AP notes that their refusal to appear is a civil offense, not a criminal one, and that the standoff appeared no closer to resolution. (Read more Texas stories.)