On Sunday, Texas Democrats in the state House of Representatives walked off the floor at 10:45 p.m. in order to kill a vote on an election integrity bill that was almost certain to pass.
Given that the legislative body goes into recess after this, The Washington Post called the move “an unmistakable defeat for the governor and fellow Republicans, who had crafted one of the most far-reaching voting bills in the country — pushing restrictions championed by former President Donald Trump, who has falsely claimed that his defeat in the 2020 election was tainted by fraud.”
Mind you, the victory is likely hollow. Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Twitter that he is going to add the bill to a special session later this year that deals with redistricting. However, The Washington Post — as well as plenty of other outlets — referred to the bill as “restrictive.”
Statement on election integrity and bail reform legislation: pic.twitter.com/rcK1Q3AnsH
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) May 31, 2021
The first paragraph from the Post’s story: “Texas Democrats staged a dramatic walkout in the state House late Sunday night to block passage of a restrictive voting bill that would have been one of the most stringent in the nation, forcing Republicans to abruptly adjourn without taking a vote on the measure.”
A CNN story about the bill was headlined: “Biden asks Americans to choose country over party as restrictive Texas voting bill advances.”
CBS News headline: “Texas Democrats block restrictive voting bill by staging late-night walkout.”
An hour and a half away from a midnight deadline to sign off on legislation, a number of House Democrats’ desks appear to be cleared off and locked up, missing their desk keys needed to vote #txlege pic.twitter.com/8HYYZwV1Qs
— Alexa Ura (@alexazura) May 31, 2021
So, what’s in the bill that’s so restrictive?
For starters, Senate Bill 7 would ban after-hours voting and drive-thru voting centers. Both of these were tactics, according to Fox News, that were adopted during the 2020 election by Harris County — home to Houston and the state’s most Democratic county.
If you wanted a mail-in ballot under the new bill, you’d also have to provide either your driver’s license or Social Security number on your request for a ballot and the return envelope with the ballot. Ballot drop-boxes would likewise be banned, according to CNN.
Furthermore, officials couldn’t send out unsolicited applications to vote by mail.
If local election officials didn’t follow procedures to update their voter rolls, they’d face $1,000-per-day fines. If election workers obstructed poll-watchers, meanwhile, there would be criminal penalties.
Weekday early voting could only take place between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., although Sunday early voting would only take place between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m.
And then there was the element that much of the mainstream media seized upon: Part of the bill made it easier to overturn election results because of voter fraud. If the bill passed, courts could throw out an election result if they found enough ballots were cast illegally that the result could have changed.
The other provision that Democrats and the media threw fits of hysteria over were the reduced hours for early voting on Sunday. That’s because many black churches often conduct what are known as “souls to the polls” drives to get congregants to vote.
Pretty anodyne stuff, all around. And yet, this is the bill that President Joe Biden called “wrong and un-American” while claiming it was intended to make it harder to cast a legitimate ballot.
“It’s part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year — and often disproportionately targeting black and brown Americans,” Biden said in a Saturday afternoon statement, as USA Today reported.
This is “restrictive.” This is “stringent.” This is an “assault on democracy.” This is what the Texas Democrats in the state House of Representatives walked out of the lower chamber to stop from passing — all while national Democrats want to do away with the Senate filibuster because they say it permits the minority party too much power to stop bills. This is what corporations are seething over.
What Democrats call restrictive, Republicans call common-sense election integrity.
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