Texas Democrats leave state to block vote on election restrictions bill News
kbhall17 / Pixabay
Texas Democrats leave state to block vote on election restrictions bill

Texas Democrats walked out on the state special session on Monday and headed for Washington, DC, to prevent Republican legislators from meeting the quorum required to vote on a bill that would restrict voting rights. They plan to stay out of state until the end of this summer term, which was ordered by Governor Greg Abbott to push through several additional Republican priority bills that failed to pass during the regular session.

Abbott’s agenda includes bills that would create a harsher bail system, restrict young trans athletes from competing on teams that align with their gender identity, ban, “critical race theory” and increase abortion regulations.

The Democrats’ departure to DC is specifically intended to stall the passage of restrictive voting bills, Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3. If passed, this legislation would ban drive-through voting and mail-in ballot application distribution by non-profits and similar organizations. They would also limit voting hours from 6 AM to 9 PM, mandate a copy of ID or social security information for mail-in voting applications, and require monthly reviews of registered voter lists to check for continued citizenship in the state. These measures target voting access enhancements made by the more progressive Harris County officials in past election cycles.

When the remaining lawmakers convened for the session Tuesday morning, they held a vote to send law enforcement to chase down the absent members. However, Texas state law enforcement does not have jurisdiction to conduct arrests beyond state lines. They also attempted to demote absent Democrats from their committee and leadership positions, but this was halted due to concerns over current floor procedural rules.

This is the second time state legislators have walked out of the session to deny Republicans a quorum. They first walked out in May during the last hours of the regular session in efforts to flout a similarly restrictive voting bill. If they are able to avoid returning to the state for the rest of the special session, they will effectively kill other agenda items slated for the summer too.