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Saturday, 18 September 2021

Texas Democrats block vote on election bill

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Texas Democrats block vote on election bill
Texas Democrats block vote on election bill

State Democratic lawmakers walked out of a legislative session late Sunday night, spelling the end - for now - of an election reform bill critics say would suppress minority voting.

This report produced by Zachary Goelman.

Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives were able to block a vote on a controversial election bill by boycotting a legislative session late on Sunday.

The speaker noted the chamber lacked a quorum, and gaveled in a recess.

"A quorum is apparently not present.

The point of order is well-take and sustained." The Democratic walkout, shortly before a midnight deadline to pass the measure, meant the measure would not come back for a vote until the fall.

The Texas bill would eliminate many of the voting provisions added to make casting a ballot easier ahead of last November's election because of health concerns.

Drive-through voting, a measure credited with helping spark record voter turnout in Houston, would no longer be allowed.

It would scrap 24-hour polling sites and ban mobile units or temporary structures from being used as polling places.

The bill also limits early hours to vote, making it more difficult to cast absentee ballots and does away with drop boxes.

And it prohibits voting on Sundays before 1 pm, a move critics say is an effort to limit voting drives known as "Souls to the Polls," when predominantly Black churches shuttle worshippers to vote after morning prayers.

Supporters of the legislation said it is needed to bolster election security.

Critics say Texas already has some of the most restrictive electoral laws in the United States, and point out that there were no substantial allegations of fraud in Texas in last year's election.

Democrats and civil rights groups called the proposal a voter suppression bill targeting voters of color, as well as the elderly and disabled.

A vote on the measure is certain to pass the Republican-dominated house.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who strongly supports the bill, said the bill would be added to a special legislative session planned for this fall.

Republican state lawmakers across the country have pursued more stringent voting restrictions following former President Donald Trump's false claim that he lost the 2020 election because of widespread election fraud.

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