ON Sunday, May 30, the Texas state House was set to vote on a bill that would add new restrictions to elections in the state.
However, Texas Democrats effectively blocked the passage of the restrictive voting bill after staging a walk-out before a midnight deadline.
Why did Texas Democrats walk off the House floor?
Texas state House Democrats left the chamber in protest, breaking quorum and ending the debate of a proposed controversial voting act.
The final version of Senate Bill 7, known as the Election Integrity Protection Act, was the result of a bicameral group of mostly Republican lawmakers reconciling proposals previously passed by both chambers.
Elements were hashed out behind closed doors, with Democrats arguing they were left in the dark as last-minute changes and entirely new provisions were pushed through.
The bill passed the state Senate along party lines during the early morning hours of May 30, as the bill came up in the state House Sunday evening for final approval.
However, after hours of debate and delaying tactics, the chamber adjourned after Democratic lawmakers left in protest, breaking quorum and ending debate.
At least 100 lawmakers must be present to conduct business.
What was in the proposed bill?
Senate Bill 7 would ban drive-thru voting, limit voting hours, make it more difficult to cast mail ballots and empower partisan poll watchers.
It would have prohibited the after-hours and drive-through options that voting rights advocates said helped Black and Latino voters in the Houston area cast their ballots in the 2020 election.
It would have required all weekday early voting to take place between 6am and 9pm – prohibiting Houston from again offering a 24-hour early voting opportunity.
And it would have barred early voting on Sundays before 1pm, which effectively limits the "souls to the polls" after-church get-out-the-vote efforts that are popular among Black churches.
Democrats repeatedly pointed to language that could make it easier to overturn an election in Texas, which was not included in the original legislation.
According to the bill text, a court may void an election if the number of fraudulent votes cast could change the result, whether or not fraud was proven to have affected the outcome.
Republicans in Texas had sought to join Florida, Georgia, and other GOP-controlled states that have seized on former President Donald Trump's lies about the 2020 election and adopted new restrictions that will make it harder for some of their residents to vote.
What did Texas Governor Greg Abbott say about the walkout?
Democratic lawmakers' move effectively killed Senate Bill 7 for this year's legislative session, however, Texas Governor Greg Abbott could revive it in the special session.
On May 30, Abbott tweeted that he is adding "election integrity" to a list of topics lawmakers will address in a special session he plans to call.
"Legislators will be expected to have worked out the details when they arrive at the Capitol for the special session," Abbott tweeted.
On May 29, President Joe Biden condemned the Texas measure, calling it "wrong and un-American" and saying it is "part of an assault on democracy that we've seen far too often this year — and often disproportionately targeting Black and Brown Americans."
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