A voting bill drafted by the Texas GOP designed to streamline the voting process in the state and to prevent the election fraud, which has been decried by critics and the liberal media as “restrictive”, was blocked at the last moment as the Democrats walked off the state House preventing a vote to pass it.
The Democratic walkout left the chamber without a quorum before the midnight deadline on Sunday.
The new legislation was on the verge of being sent to the desk of Texas Governor Greg Abbott as it had been passed by the state Senate.
Dems celebrate, but not for long
Mainstream media have been quick to celebrate the Texas Democrats’ move as one of the biggest expressions of protest against what is described as nationwide efforts by the Republican Party to install “restrictive” voting laws – which are in fact designed precisely in order to prevent fraud at the ballot.
Gov. Abbott, however, has reacted to the Democrats’ walkout by declaring that he would order a special session of the state House so that the vital election reform vote could take place.
Abbott, who revealed his deep disappointment with the Dems move, did not specify immediately when the special House session would be scheduled for.
The draft Senate Bill 7 was aimed at introducing stricter and more reliable voting regulations: reducing polling hours, stipulating a greater role for poll watchers, and also reducing the number of different ways to cast a ballot in Texas.
Just 24 hours earlier, the bill seemed guaranteed to pass and move over to Abbott’s desk, as the Texas Senate, in which the GOP has an 18 to 13 majority, had approved it just before sunrise on Sunday.
The Democrats killed the needed 100-member quorum at the Texas state House by walking out one by one on Sunday evening.
According to Rep. Carl Sherman, a Democrat, the proposed bill doesn’t do much for “our democracy”.
Democratic representatives declared they had not originally intended to break the House quorum but since the GOP reps refused to answer their questions and were racing to pass the election reform legislation, they had become fed-up.
Democratic House leader state Rep. Chris Turner later revealed that at 10:35 pm he sent a text to members of his caucus telling them to leave the chamber – even at the time, however, the Democrats had started to leave on their own.
Dems forgot about the oath to serve the people of Texas
Democratic representative Trey Martinez Fischer stated the walkout had been needed to send a message to Democrat President Joe Biden about the need for a federal response to voting rights.
Republican criticism of the Democrats was somewhat restrained after the latter’s walkout, with GOP state Rep. Briscoe Cain, reminding them of the oath they had taken to serve the people of Texas.
The Texas bill stipulates the elimination of drive-thru voting as well as 24-hour polling centers, which were introduced last year in Harris County which includes Houston, the largest stronghold of the Democrats in the state.
The 67-page draft also contains provisions making it easier for election results to be overturned in court.
Georgia and Florida, whose state legislatures and governorships are dominated by the GOP, have already passed voting reform laws designed to prevent voter fraud in the wake of the 2020 election, and Texas has been the last big battleground in the Republicans’ push to make stricter and fairer voting laws.
A total of at least 14 states led by the GOP have carried out electoral reform by adopting new legislation in the wake of the 2020 election.