lawmakers in Texas
are considering another walkout
— and possibly fleeing the state — to obstruct the passage of harsh new voter suppression
Protesters gathered at the Texas Capitol
Saturday during hearings for the second attempt to pass the bills after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott
called a special session.
The proposed measures, which are among the most restrictive in the country, would reduce the number of votes
cast in any election
by making it more difficult to vote, such as by reducing voting
However, the bills can only be passed by the Republican majority with a quorum of enough Texas state legislators present at the time of the vote.
In a surprise mobilization in May, Democrats walked out en masse during a vote on the previous measure, scuttling the bill by falling 14 people
short of the required 100-member quorum, prompting Abbott to threaten to defund the legislature.
In light of the new bills, which would prohibit 24-hour polling places, ban drop boxes, and eliminate drive-thru voting, among other restrictions, some Democrats are considering taking the same action.
“Should we stay? Hell no. For what?” Democratic state Rep. Jarvis Johnson told NBC-5 TV. “There’s nothing being done in earnest. There’s nothing being done with the utmost respect for one another.”
Former Texas congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke has stated that he is willing to raise funds to "feed and house
the legislators" if they are in need.
Beyond walking out of the Capitol, Democrats are considering fleeing the state, according to The New York Times
, in order to avoid being rounded up and forced back into chambers. Sources told the Times that such a move would draw a major spotlight back to the critical issue, and it may also inspire U.S. Senate Democrats
to get serious about passing national voter reform.
During hearings on the new measures on Saturday, Texas Republicans
made an embarrassing admission: there was no evidence of major voting fraud
in the state. Voting fraud has long been Republicans' public justification for tighter controls on when and where ballots can be cast.
Texas Republicans' push is part of a national GOP
strategy to reduce the number of votes cast, focusing on constituents who typically support Democrats, such as people of color, as American demographics increasingly point to the party's doom.
President Joe Biden
has compared the new voter suppression bills to the racist Jim Crow laws
enacted following the Civil War