With a midnight deadline hanging over the proceedings, Texas Democrats staged a walkout in the state House successfully blocking a voting bill that would have made it harder to vote by mail, limit driving non-family members to the polls, and more.
From the Washington Post:
The exodus from the floor came after Chris Turner, the House Democratic chairman, sent instructions to colleagues at 10:35 p.m. Central time instructing them to exit the House, according to an image shared with The Washington Post.
“Members, take your key and leave the chamber discreetly,” Turner wrote, referring to the key that locks the voting mechanism on their desks. “Do not go to the gallery. Leave the building.”
Texas sets a quorum for each legislative chamber at 2/3 of the elected members (Texas Constitution Article 3, Section 10). In the House, that means 100 representatives have to be present for a vote. Republicans only have 83 House seats.
The bill (Senate Bill 7) would ban drop boxes and drive-through voting – popular practices used in heavily Democratic Harris County last year. It would have moved early voting hours on Sundays to the afternoon. That clause was clearly aimed at the get-out-the-vote programs known as ‘souls to the polls’ popular among Black churchgoers.
The bill is dead for now, however, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced he will call a special legislative session to address the bill again later in the year.
The exodus from the floor came after Chris Turner, the House Democratic chairman, sent instructions to colleagues at 10:35 p.m. CDT: “Members, take your key and leave the chamber discreetly. Do not go to the gallery. Leave the building.” https://t.co/ZGXa1hcwpG
— Amy Gardner (@AmyEGardner) May 31, 2021
This is just the fourth time that Texas lawmakers have broken quorum to stop debate on a bill.
— Lauren “Vaxxed to the Max” McGaughy 🌟 (@lmcgaughy) May 31, 2021
— Miguel Gutierrez Jr. (@mgutierrezjr) May 31, 2021
Texas Democrats did what we could tonight but this fight is far from over.
We won’t stop fighting until each and every eligible voter has true access to that ballot box.
Now we call on Biden and the US Senate to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and stop Texas GOP attacks
— Representative Jasmine Crockett (@jasminefor100) May 31, 2021