Texas House Dems take drastic measures to end voter suppression

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Jackson Advocate Staff Report

In a grand gesture to stop voter suppression in their state, Texas House Democrats boarded a bus to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and then boarded a plane that took them to Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC.

“Today, Texas House Democrats stand united in our decision to break quorum and refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote.

“We are now taking the fight to our nation’s Capitol. We are living on borrowed time in Texas. We need Congress to act now to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to protect Texans – and all Americans – from the Trump Republicans’ nationwide war on democracy,” said Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner, Mexican American Legislative Caucus Chair Rafael Anchía, Texas Legislative Black Caucus Chair Nicole Collier, Legislative Study Group Caucus Chair Garnet Coleman, and Dean Senfronia Thompson in a statement released to the public.

A quorum is the minimum number of legislators needed to make a vote valid. In this case, the 50+ Democratic House members of the Texas Legislature breaking the ranks present an interesting power move that seems to be working.

Earlier this year, during the Texas Legislature’s regular session, Senate Bill 7 sought to end drive-in voting and 24-hour voting, to increase the measures surrounding voting by mail, encourage the use of partisan poll watchers, and prohibit candidates from sending applications to request mail-in ballots.

The bill passed the Texas Senate, but the Texas House Dems broke the quorum to run out the clock so that the bill would not pass. Then, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott called for a special session of the legislature in an attempt to get the bill passed.

With Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3 on the table, the House Dems tacked on amendments to the bill in an attempt to thwart these plans. Each one was shot down by the House Republicans. Additionally, approximately 300 Texas citizens waited for over 17 hours to have their voices heard. Most of them spoke out against the election bill.

Crystal Chism, a newly elected council member of Desoto, Texas, said, “I’m a veteran. I served my country proudly for 10 years, 2 tours in Iraq…As a veteran, I learned quickly how important voting was to me. Many of the things that I’ve seen in SB 1 directly impact the people that look just like me. I oppose SB 1.”

And now, the House Dems are in Washington, DC. They plan to meet with members of Congress to urge them to pass a nation bill to end voter suppression and unjust election laws. The special session of the Texas Legislature ends in 3½ weeks on August 7. The House Dems plan to hold out until then, essentially running out the clock once again.