Texas Democrats staged a mass walkout late Sunday night as a last-ditch effort to stave off a vote on a GOP “election integrity” initiative that would overhaul the state’s voting laws, reports said.
“Members, take your key and leave the chamber discreetly,” state Rep. Chris Turner, the Democratic caucus chair of the house, wrote in a text message to party members at 10:35 p.m. local time, the New York Times reported.
Turner added: “Do not go to the gallery. Leave the building.”
The dramatic departure came after a marathon tug-of-war with the Republican party and prevented the House of Representatives from having the minimum number of lawmakers necessary for a vote before the midnight deadline.
Around 11 p.m., the State House speaker Dade Phelan was forced to adjourn the session as the required 100-member quorum was 14 members short following the walkout, leaving the bill effectively dead until the next legislative session.
While the protest did buy Democrats some time — it’s not expected to last long.
Republican Governor Greg Abbott issued a statement on Twitter late Sunday saying he plans to call a special session to make sure the bill gets passed.
“I declared Election Integrity and Bail Reform to be must-pass emergency items for this legislative session. It is deeply disappointing and concerning for Texans that neither will reach my desk,” Abbott said.
“Ensuring the integrity of our elections and reforming a broken bail system remain emergencies in Texas. They will be added to the special session agenda. Legislators will be expected to have worked out the details when they arrive at the Capitol for the special session.”
Republicans are still favored to get the bill through in a special session but they’d have to start over from scratch following months of roadblocks and staunch opposition from Democrats.
The bill was introduced by Republican legislators following former President Donald Trump’s loss to President Biden in the 2020 Election and baseless allegations that voter fraud was the reason why. Red states across the country have rushed to pass strict “election integrity” laws that Democrats have lambasted as an assault on democracy.
Texas’ bill included punishments for mistakes or offenses committed by election officials and adds new ID requirements for mail-in voting. It also makes it a crime for local officials to send ballot applications to voters who haven’t requested them.