Texas Democrats Seeking To Prevent Passage Of Election Security Bill Flee To DC

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Democratic lawmakers in Texas are fleeing the state for the nation’s capital in order to prevent the passage of multiple Republican-proposed bills, it was reported Monday.

At least 58 Democrats in the Texas House are preparing to depart Austin and head to Washington, D.C. to keep Republicans from reaching a quorum, according to NBC News. If they are successful in preventing a quorum for the entirety of Texas’ special legislative session, a number of Republican proposals will fail to pass, most notably a new election security bill that opponents have classified as a voter suppression plan.

Texas Democrats previously stood up to state business in May. They did this in order to prevent the passage of the election changes by walking out of the legislative session, prompting Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to call a special session which began July 8. Monday’s maneuver is set to be the biggest disruption tactic Democrats have deployed in the state since May 2003, when 50 House Democrats left the state for New Mexico and Oklahoma to prevent the passage of a redistricting bill.

That redistricting bill was eventually passed after enough of the defectors returned to Austin, and Democrats will have to stay out of town for weeks this time around to prevent a repeat outcome. The Texas constitution permits special legislative sessions to last up to 30 days. The constitution also requires two-thirds of legislators to be in the chamber for business to be conducted, and absent lawmakers can be legally compelled to return to their posts by state law enforcement.

As currently constructed, the Republican proposal includes new voter ID requirements for voting by mail, prevents elections officials from sending mail-in ballot applications to voters who didn’t ask for one and bans drive-through voting. The proposal also expands the powers available to partisan poll watchers and institutes new criminal penalties for people who improperly assist others with mail-in or in-person voting. (RELATED: Allen West Announces Run For Texas Governor In A Challenge To Greg Abbott)

Once the Democrats arrive in Washington on their two chartered private jets, they reportedly plan to rally on behalf of the For The People Act, Democrats’ federal elections proposal that passed the House of Representatives but has since been stalled in the 50-50 Senate.

The goal of Texas Democrats is to make themselves a symbol in the ongoing fight over voting regulations, and to pressure Senate Democrats like West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema to pass the For The People Act, according to The New York Times.

The departure is the most drastic tactic deployed yet by Democrats to resist Republican election laws. Despite corporate boycotts and national political pressure, Republicans were successful in passing new voting regulations in Georgia earlier this year.

Congressional Democrats and the Biden administration have made voting rights a key point of contention since the 2020 election. Republicans have introduced new election laws in a number of states, oftentimes to overturn changes made to election administration to accommodate for the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Joe Biden is set to give a speech on the subject Tuesday in Philadelphia.

The situation could also jeopardize the future of several other Republican initiatives in the state. Abbott and Republican lawmakers are also seeking to ban transgender women from competing in women’s sports in the state and to combat critical race theory in K-12 schools.