WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Texas Democrats fled the state in an attempt to block Republicans from passing new voting restrictions.
- Texas does not have online voter registration and only allows people who are 65, have a disability, or who meet other criteria to vote by mail.
- It is the second time Texas Dems have denied Republicans the required two-thirds quorum to conduct a vote.
Texas Democratic lawmakers fled the state on Monday in an attempt to block GOP-backed election reform bills.
Out of the 67 lawmakers in the Texas House of Representatives, 60 Democrats left Austin on two charter flights to Washington, DC. The group is calling for the Biden administration and congressional lawmakers to pass federal voting rights legislation.
Scott Gordon, a reporter from KXAS, an NBC-owned-and-operated television station, shared an image of the maskless Democrats on one of the planes to Twitter.
The act means the Texas House will not reach a quorum when it meets on Tuesday.
“Today, Texas House Democrats stand united in our decision to break quorum and refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote,” read a statement signed by Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner and four other lawmakers.
“We are now taking the fight to our nation’s Capitol. We are living on borrowed time in Texas. We need Congress to act now to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to protect Texans — and all Americans — from the Trump Republicans’ nationwide war on democracy.”
On May 30, the Dems walked out of the chamber in the final hours of the regular legislative session before an expected vote on the election legislation. The mass walkout left the House short of the required number of lawmakers needed to conduct a vote.
Shortly after the Democrats’ exodus to the capital, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott called for a special legislative session.
According to the Texas Tribune, the chamber can vote to lock the doors to prevent legislators from leaving. Also under House rules, law enforcement officials can track down and arrest any members who already fled.
Abbott can call for another session when the Democrats return.
“The Democrats must put aside partisan political games and get back to the job they were elected to do,” Abbott said in a statement. “Their constituents must not be denied these important resources simply because their elected representative refused to show up to work.”
The Republicans are firm that the voting measures can ensure the integrity of the election by preventing voter fraud. The measures aim to end 24-hour polling places, banning ballot drop boxes, and empowering partisan poll watchers.
However, Democrats say the GOP voting bills will only make it harder for Texans to vote.
Vice President Kamala Harris applauded the “courage and commitment” of the Democratic lawmakers.
“I applaud them standing for the rights of all Americans, and all Texans to express their voice through their vote, unencumbered,” Harris said at an event in Michigan on Monday. “I do believe that fighting for the right to vote is as American as apple pie.”