Following their walkout last month to avoid voting on a comprehensive election reform bill in the final hours of the regular legislative session, Texas House Democrats say they are willing to flee the state to block election integrity legislation during a special session later this year.
State Rep. Rafael Anchia (D–Dallas) told CNN Thursday he and other House Democrats “still have tools in our tool belt” to stop passage of Republicans’ priority election reforms, “including not coming back for that special session.”
Yes, the governor could be empowered to send law enforcement out to pull us back in, but we’re already discussing, not only attacking the bill if we come back and fight it directly in the House chamber through procedure, through the rules, as we have done throughout, but also looking at continuing to break quorum.
“It’s no secret that’s something that has been effective in the past in the state of Texas,” Anchia said, confirming he “would be willing to” leave the state to break quorum.
At least 51 representatives would need to flee to bust the two-thirds (100-member) quorum required to conduct House business.
“We’re ready,” he added.
The bill Anchia and other Democrats are ready to attack, or even leave Texas to stop a vote on, will likely be a pared-down version of Senate Bill 7, conservatives’ top-priority comprehensive election reform bill in the regular session.
Loaded with a wide range of reforms sought by election integrity advocates, the omnibus bill was mismanaged by Republican lawmakers and came to the House floor for final approval just hours before the deadline to pass legislation.
After Republican House Speaker Dade Phelan assured them he wouldn’t use his authority to block them, Democrats were able to kill the bill by simply leaving the House chamber, breaking the quorum needed to take the final vote on SB 7.
Anchia said Texas Democrats are “making common cause with our colleagues throughout the country” to continue opposing election integrity measures they claim are intended to “suppress” voting by minorities.
Earlier this year, a Democrat-led alliance of special interests launched coordinated attacks on GOP-priority voting legislation in multiple states.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has said election integrity will be on the agenda of a special session he intends to call sometime later this year.