Democrats in the Texas legislature staged a rather dramatic walk-out late on Sunday evening, a move that was designed to sink Republican plans for voting on a piece of legislation that has been derided by President Joe Biden as being voter suppression and an “assault on democracy.”
The bill in question would, along with other changes, make mail-in voting a more difficult process that would require voters to provide extra information, prevent local officials from sending out absentee ballots without being requested, and put an end to after-hours and drive-through voting.
Many supporters of Senate Bill 7 have said the bill is designed to help make voting more secure, but those who oppose it state it just makes things harder for ethnic-minority voters, many of whom vote Democrat.
“Republicans came into the legislative session hell-bent on passing legislation that would rig our democracy for their team,” Democrat state representative Jessica Gonzalez posted in a tweet just a little while after the walk-out.
“Tonight, Texas Dems drew a line in the sand and made it clear that we will fight day and night, every tactic available to us, for your right to vote,” she continued.
The bill could still end up making it into law. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott stated after the bill’s defeat that he would be calling a special session to help it get through session.
At about 10:45 p.m. Sunday, as the bill was discussed on the floor of the State House, the Democrat members departed the chamber en masse, leaving the body short of the required 100 members in attendance to pass anything.
Local media reported that House Democratic Caucus chair Chris Turner sparked the exodus by texting all members to say: “Take your key and leave the chamber discretely. Do not go to the gallery. Leave the building.”
The session was then adjourned, ending any hopes of the bill passing in this legislative term.
However, Abbott, a Republican who backs the election changes, raised the possibility of a special session to push them through.
“Election Integrity & Bail Reform were emergency items for this legislative session. They STILL must pass,” Abbott tweeted out, adding, “They will be added to the special session agenda.”
Republicans in the Texas House posted a tweet slamming the walk-out.
“The Texas House Republican Caucus condemns the actions of their colleagues in the Texas House who chose to vacate their Constitutional responsibility and leave millions of Texans without resolution on key issues in the final hours of the legislative session,” the tweet read.