The legislation – which is part of a national struggle for voting rights in the wake of the 2020 election, which saw former President Donald Trump make baseless claims of massive fraud – has prompted Democrats, who are in a stark minority in Texas, to run out of time for state legislation. session in May. When Abbott called a special session soon after, the State House caucus took the most dramatic step of fleeing Texas in mid-July, denying Republicans the quorum they needed to pass. bill and traveling to Washington to urge federal lawmakers to pass broader voting reform laws. .
Democrats waited until the first special session – but the realities of a Republican-dominated state government remained firmly in place. Most lawmakers returned to the state for the current special session shortly thereafter, where Democratic state senator Carol Alvarado took another symbolic position: a 3 p.m. filibuster who preceded a line vote. party to move the bill forward.
When the State House finally reached its quorum last Thursday, lawmakers debated 63 amendments for more than 12 hours, rejecting Democratic attempts to expand voter registration online or increase voter identification options. . In remarks leading up to Friday’s vote in the State House, Democrats referred to the historic voter suppression, personal family histories and events that spurred the creation of legislation like SB 1 , including the outcry over the validity of the presidential electoral process and the January 6 insurgency.
“I believe everyone on this floor wants to make sure that we have safe elections and free elections, but I don’t think this bill gets us there,” Senator César Blanco, opposed to the government, said on Tuesday. law Project. “I am concerned that this bill will take our state down a very dangerous and slippery slope.”
“Every problem we talk about in this place, it’s easy to say what might not be (necessary) if you haven’t been touched by it before. And that’s what’s wrong with this chamber, ”State Representative Toni Rose said Thursday, frustrated during debate over her proposal that the Texas Secretary of State study the racial impacts of the Election Code. “The fact that you all have already made a clear choice is so misleading to me. “
State House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican, sparked backlash on Thursday when he told lawmakers he “would appreciate it if members did not use the word ‘racism'” on State House floors after encouraging civility. A representative spoke of racism while questioning her Democratic colleague about the potential discriminatory effects of the bill, causing explosions from deputies on the ground.
Looking around the room as he spoke against the bill on Friday, Democratic State Representative Jon Rosenthal objected to the rule, noting that lawmakers in attendance were disproportionately white compared to to the state they represent.
“So what is the appropriate alternative term to describe a situation where people of color are systematically and methodologically disadvantaged? Rosenthal asked. “Because it certainly is with Texas election law.”
While Democrats in Texas have finally come to terms with defeat on the election bill, the results of their lobbying for federal action with Democrats in Washington were unclear at best.
Nationally, House Democrats passed their new voting rights proposal, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, in a party line vote earlier this month. But while Democrats control the Senate, they don’t have the votes to overcome a Republican obstruction unless 10 GOP members break ranks – after no House Republican backed the bill.
Texas State Representative Chris Turner, who chairs the House Democratic Caucus, said Vice President Kamala Harris asked them for more time when the representatives fled to Washington, and they managed to achieve quorum twice.
“But what we have left is 90 days,” Turner said on the floor Friday, referring to the amount of time a bill passed by the Legislature needs before it comes into force. ” Hurry up. “