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Texas Democrats leave state to block Republican voting law

6 months 1 week 6 days ago Tuesday, July 13 2021 Jul 13, 2021 July 13, 2021 5:59 AM July 13, 2021 in News
Source: BBC News
Texas Democrats on their way to Washington D.C., where they plan to stay for more than three weeks to deny the state House a quorum. Photo: Jane C. Timm/Twitter

House Democrats in Texas have taken extreme measures to stop Republicans from implementing new voting restrictions.

BBC News reports that at least 50 House Democrats left Texas hoping to temporarily paralyze the state's House of Representatives, which requires that at least two-thirds of the 150 members be present for a vote.

The Democrats left the state via two private jets Monday, heading out by way of Austin and making their way to Washington D.C. They do not intend to return until the 30-day special session ends in August.

Republicans have been working to tighten voting laws, as they believe such measures are necessary for election security.

The bill in Texas would forbid 24-hour polling places and increase the authority of partisan poll watchers. An initial vote was scheduled to take place later this week.

Democrats, meanwhile, feel the measures are nothing more than an attack on voting rights. They also feel Texans aren't the only U.S. citizens whose voting rights are being targeted. 

Democratic state Rep. John Bucy said this is what prompted he and his colleagues to leave Texas and head to Washington D.C. 

He told CNN, "We are coming to DC to put pressure on them to act, because this isn't just Texas. All over the South and in Republican states, we are seeing voter suppression bills. We need Congress to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act." 

According to Texas House rules, absent politicians can be arrested and returned to the house floor. But this only applies if the absent politicians are in the state of Texas.  

In response to the exodus, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican, said the House would use "every available resource" to secure a quorum.

Some feel the Democrat's decision to leave the state is more of a symbolic move than an action that will prevent the new voting restriction laws from moving forward. 

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