The question posed again for election integrity advocates is whether the Texas House can pass the Republican priority.
“We want to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. Both are important,” said State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R–Mineola). “Making sure everyone who is eligible to vote can vote, and that all those votes are counted, is critical.”
Hughes is the author of Senate Bill 1, the third version of his major election reform bill he’s filed this year, following Senate Bill 7 in the regular session and a similar Senate Bill 1 in the first special session.
On Monday, the third day of the second special session, the Senate State Affairs Committee held a public hearing on SB 1. Dozens of witnesses spoke both for and against the bill, and many repeated their testimony from the previous two hearings.
At the end of the four-hour hearing, committee members approved the election bill on a party-line vote of 6-3, sending it to the full Senate, where it’s expected to pass—again.
Election integrity is a top legislative priority of the Texas GOP and Gov. Greg Abbott, yet the Republican-run House failed to pass a comprehensive election reform bill during the 140-day regular session.
House Speaker Dade Phelan allowed Democrats to walk out and break the two-thirds quorum required for the 150-member House to hold a final vote on the bill.
During the first special session in July, the Senate passed Hughes’ earlier version of SB 1 (similar but not identical to his original SB 7) following a 14-hour public hearing, but Democrats again blocked a vote on the Republican-priority bill—and all other legislation, including a similar House election integrity bill. More than 50 Democrat state representatives took a publicity trip to D.C. to protest election integrity reforms, once again breaking the quorum required for the House to conduct business.
Election integrity remained on the governor’s agenda for the second special session, which began on August 7. Hughes once again filed his comprehensive election reform bill SB 1, and State Rep. Andrew Murr (R–Junction) again filed House Bill 3, a carryover from the first special session that is similar to Hughes’ bill.
It’s unclear when—or if—enough House Democrats will return to the Capitol to consider these and other priority bills on the special session agenda.
Will the third time be the charm for the GOP priority election reforms?