Texas Democrats stage walkout to delay vote on controversial voting rights bill
By: Alyssa Wilson
Democrats in Texas walked off the state House floor to prevent the passage of a controversial voting rights bill Sunday night. The walkout came after hours of debate over Senate Bill 7, which passed in the state Senate.
According to the Texas Tribune, Democrats began leaving throughout the night. The remaining members of the party walked out around 10:30 p.m. Without the Democrats present, the House did not have enough members present for a quorum, which is the minimum number of members needed to continue proceedings.
State Representative Jessica González told The Washington Post, “We decided to come together and say we weren’t going to take it. We needed to be part of the process. Cutting us out completely — I mean, this law will affect every single voter in Texas.”
According to The Hill, Senate Bill 7 is one of the most sweeping GOP-led elections bill. It proposes within:
- Puts limits on early and curbside voting
- Prohibits round-the-clock voting centers and outdoor voting facilities
- Eliminates straight-ticket voting, which has been used in Texas for decades
- Limits the use of voting drop boxes
- Requires large counties to install video surveillance systems and live stream vote counts
- Imposes penalties on election officials who refuse to allow poll watchers into designated areas
- Makes it a felony for campaign workers to collect absentee ballots to be delivered to election officials
Republicans argue the bill will protect the voting rights of Texans, but Democrats say it targets communities of color. Republican State Senator Bryan Hughes and Republican Representative Briscoe Cain released the following joint statement: “This bill is the product of years of hard work and deliberation by past and current legislators.” Lina Hidalgo, a Democratic judge in Harris County, said, ” Drive-through voting, in particular, is disproportionately used by voters of color, so it’s very transparent what their motivation is.”
The Texas bill is similar to legislation in other GOP-led states, including Florida, Georgia and Arizona. These measures were put in place after President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. What makes the Texas bill different is that it has criminal liability consequences for election officials who do not comply with orders from the Secretary of State.
On Monday, Republican Governor Greg Abbott said he would veto funding for the state legislature. In an official statement, he expressed disappointment that the bill was not passed, saying, “I expect legislators to have worked out their differences prior to arriving back at the Capitol so that they can hit the ground running to pass legislation related to these emergency items and other priority legislation.”
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