All of Texas’ Democratic state legislators have fled the state capital and many have flown on private jets to Washington, D.C. in an attempt to stop Republican state lawmakers from having the required quorum needed to conduct legislative business. Gov. Greg Abbott had called a 30-day special session to get a controversial new voting law passed after the bill failed to pass during the regular session due to the same Democratic lawmakers fleeing the capital to prevent a quorum. The last time this happened was in 2003 when Texas asked both Oklahoma and New Mexico if Texas law enforcement officials could enter their states and arrest Democratic lawmakers and bring them back to Austin. Both states said no.
Republicans say the new voting law will ensure election integrity by making sure voting is done in a controlled and monitored environment by non-partisan election workers and that drive-thru voting is unsafe and that drive-thru ballots can be altered, go missing and have other irregularities. Additionally, mail-in ballots are not secure, and very often people are getting them when they didn’t request them, or are getting more than one, this opens the possibility of voting fraud. The bill was filed by Rep Andrew Murr of Junction, Texas who said his bill is reasonable, actually opens up more voting times and places, and ensures all voting is conducted in a verifiable manner.
During the 2020 election, Republicans complained about Harris County allowing drive-thru voting and 24-hour voting. Harris County is home to Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city.
Meanwhile, Texas Democratic lawmakers are in D.C. where they said they are prepared to wait until the special session is done, each special session last 30 days and today is day 5.
“Republicans are trying to shove down our throats restrictive new voting laws meant to intimidate minority voters and make it harder for them to get to the polls,” said Jeff Brinker of Dallas. “So far, Texas has found and filed charges against 103 people statewide on voting fraud or other voting crimes. 103 vote will not have changed any results in any state or federal election in Texas. Minorities are more unable to get to the polls during work hours and they are proposing to restrict polling hours.”
With there being no quorum, the state legislature can not proceed on any official business other than to try and compel Democratic lawmakers to return to Austin and to end the session. Texas Speaker of the House, Dade Phelan, said that he is looking at other options but refused to indicate what he is planning. One idea floated was to ask federal law enforcement such as the FBI to get involved and help return Texas Democratic lawmakers back to Texas. But the FBI has indicated that no criminal charges have been filed so this is not their jurisdiction. According to Texas law currently, it is not a crime to leave during a legislative session.