Texas State Dems Consider Leaving State to Block Voting Reform


a voter button in red, white, and blue with stars and stripes reading reform



















(Mike Suszycki/Dreamstime)

Democrat members of the Texas State Legislature are considering leaving the state to block a GOP-led bill on voting reforms.

If enough go along with the idea, it would deny the Republicans a quorum to move forward with their bill during a special session.

Using a similar tactic in May, Democrats walked out of the State House during a late-night session to block the bill.

The majority Republican State House passed the measure, and it was due to come up in the Senate for final passage by midnight Monday, according to The Texas Tribune.

Republicans hold majorities in both chambers and the governorship of the state.

The bill tightens up requirements for voters to get absentee or mail-in ballots and bans the use of temporary structures like tents, or parking garages and lots from being used as polling places, according to the text of the bill.

Republicans have made the bill a priority following the 2020 election and allegations of fraud that took place in many states as Democrat and former Vice President Joe Biden defeated incumbent Republican President Donald Trump.

Many Democrats call the legislation "too restrictive" and fear the new rules would disenfranchise people of color disproportionately.

According to The New York Times on Saturday, some Democrats would rather see members stay and fight the bill, rather than leave the state to block it from moving to a vote in the Senate during the special session called by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

"Part of the calculus is how we shape the narrative because all eyes are on the state of Texas when it comes to our voting rights," State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, who is a leader of the group that organized the May walkout, told the Times.

Former Democrati congressman and presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke said he planned to testify at hearings about the bill.

"We're encouraging as many of our volunteers and other Texans of good conscience to show up and be heard," O'Rourke, who is weighing a challenge to Abbott next year, told the Times. "If we want free and fair elections in 2022 then we have to fight for voting rights in 2021."

Texas is one of more than 20 states that have either passed or are considering changes to voting laws following the 2020 election.

Other states such as Florida and Georgia have already passed such state laws while federal lawmakers brought Democrat-sponsored legislation that Republicans argued amounted to a federal takeover of elections.

Republicans blocked H.R. 1 and S.R. 1 in the Senate.

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