Democrats take to the streets in an attempt to block Texas Republicans from enacting new voting restrictions.
After Democrats walked out of the House chamber before the midnight deadline, a limited voting law in Texas failed to pass.
Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, quickly said that he will summon a special session to attempt again to enact a voting reform, although he would not specify when.
“We’ve claimed for so many years that we want more people to participate in our democracy,” Democratic state legislator Carl Sherman said. And it appears that this is not the case.”
The bill, known as Senate Bill 7, would have implemented a slew of election reforms, including the elimination of drive-thru voting, the empowerment of partisan poll watchers, and new requirements for voting by mail in Texas, which already has some of the strictest voting regulations in the country.
Democrats began trickling out of the chamber in increasing numbers two hours before the bill’s midnight deadline, depriving Republicans the quorum needed to hold a final vote.
Republicans suffered a rare defeat in the Texas Capitol, where they wield enormous majorities in both the House and Senate and control every lever of power.
“I am saddened that some members decided to break quorum,” Republican state representative Briscoe Cain said.
“We were all aware of what that signified. I understand why they did it, but we all swore to the people of Texas that we would be here to fulfill our jobs.”
Outnumbered Democrats violated quorum twice in 2003 to block Republican efforts to change voting districts.
Both efforts failed in the end, as Democrats returned to the Capitol and Republicans passed the law.
Republicans included language that might make it easier for a judge to overturn an election and pushed back the start of Sunday voting, when many black churchgoers go to the polls, during closed-door deliberations.
The 67-page bill also repeals drive-thru voting and 24-hour polling centers, which Harris County, the state’s most Democratic bastion, implemented last year.
In the GOP’s nationwide efforts to tighten, Texas is the final big battlefield. (This is a brief piece.)