Texas House Democrats walkout blocks controversial voting bill
AUSTIN, Texas - A controversial bill that would have brought sweeping new restrictions on voting in Texas is dead at least for now. It failed in the Texas House after Democrats walked out in the final hours of the legislative session.
The Texas House had a deadline of midnight to get Senate Bill 7 to Governor Greg Abbott's desk but Democrats essentially ran the clock. The Texas Senate had passed the GOP-led SB7 early Sunday morning so it was up to the House to pass it in the remaining hours of the session.
As Democrats spoke out about the bill last night, one by one they began leaving the House floor. At around 10:30 p.m. the remaining Democratic members walked out of the chamber and prevented the House from having the quorum it needed to hold a vote on the bill.
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Democrats say they walked out for several reasons including new provisions being added to the bill at the last minute and debate being cut off.
After the walkout, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick scolded House Republicans for taking two days off late in the session and waiting until the last minute to address SB7 and giving Democrats the opportunity to block it.
The 67-page bill tackled a variety of voting-related issues. It prohibits ballot drop boxes and drive-thru voting. It also limits early voting hours to between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., with the exception of Sunday mornings.
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Voters would have to request a mail-in ballot in order to vote by mail and provide a driver’s license number or Social Security number.
Republicans claim the bill was about voting integrity and making sure elections are fair but Democrats say the bill amounted to voter suppression, particularly for voters of color and those with disabilities.
Gov. Abbott has already said he's planning to call a special session to address the voting bill.