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Vote on Texas bill to make voting tougher blocked by no quorum

WorldMay 31, 2021 06:46PM ET
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4/4 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Voting rights activists gather during a protest against Texas legislators who are advancing new voting restrictions in Austin, Texas, U.S., May 8, 2021. REUTERS/Mikala Compton 2/4

By Brad Brooks

SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) -Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives boycotted a legislative session late Sunday, blocking a vote on an election reform bill critics say would make it harder for Blacks and Hispanics to vote.

With just over an hour before a midnight deadline to pass the measure, Republican members of the House said that Democrats had walked out to deny the House a quorum for a vote.

The Texas House went into recess until 10 a.m. local time on Monday - beyond the midnight Sunday deadline to pass legislation in this session.

A vote on the measure is certain to pass the Republican-dominated house. Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who strongly supports the bill, said in a late Sunday emailed statement that the bill would be added to a special legislative session planned for this fall.

Supporters of the legislation said it is needed to bolster election security. The country's second-most-populous state already has some of the most restrictive electoral laws in the United States, even without the pending bill.

The proposed bill states that the changes "are not intended to impair the right of free suffrage" but are necessary to "prevent fraud in the electoral process."

Republican U.S. Representative Michael McCaul of Texas told CNN's "State of the Union" that the intent is to "give the American people more trust in our elections."

Democrats and civil rights groups argue that such legislation disproportionately burdens or discourages voters of color, as well as the elderly and disabled.

There were no substantial allegations of fraud in Texas in last year's election and Republicans maintained their three-decade grip on all statewide offices.

Republican state lawmakers across the country have pursued more stringent voting restrictions following former President Donald Trump's false claim that he lost the 2020 election because of widespread election fraud.

So far, 14 other U.S. states have enacted 22 laws this year that make it more difficult for Americans to vote, according to a report released on Friday by the Brennan Center for Justice.

SCRAPPING INNOVATIONS

The Texas bill would strike down innovations used during last November's election because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Drive-through voting, credited with helping spark record voter turnout in Houston, will no longer be allowed. The bill also limits early hours to vote, makes it more difficult to cast absentee ballots and does away with drop boxes.

The bill would forbid voting on Sundays before 1 p.m. Critics called that a blatant strike on the "Souls to the Polls" effort at Black churches, when worshippers have traditionally traveled in caravans to polling sites to cast votes after morning services.

The legislation would also scrap 24-hour polling sites and ban mobile units or temporary structures from being used as polling places.

The bill would also make it easier for courts to overturn elections where fraud is alleged. Instead of requiring evidence that fraudulent votes directly resulted in a candidate's win, a court could overturn an election if the number of fraudulent votes is equal to the margin of victory, regardless of who those fraudulent votes were cast for.

New requirements would take effect as well for Texans who want to vote through the mail and election officials would be barred from sending unsolicited mail-in ballot applications to voters. The legislation would also make the removal of disruptive, partisan poll watchers more difficult.

Democratic President Joe Biden said in a statement on Saturday that the legislation in Texas "attacks the sacred right to vote."

Earlier this month, dozens of companies - including American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) Group Inc, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE:HPE) Co and Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) - urged legislators to reject any law restricting access to ballots.

'IN THEIR PLACE'

Members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and the state's NAACP civil rights organization said the bill hearkened back to the Jim Crow-era, when laws were enacted to block Blacks from voting and to maintain racial segregation in the U.S. South from the late 19th century into the 1960s.

"This is a clear case of taking power and putting minorities in their place so they can never share power in Texas," Gary Bledsoe, president of the state's NAACP chapter, said ahead of the vote.

Julian Castro, secretary of housing and urban development under former President Barack Obama and a former mayor of San Antonio, told a Democratic Party news conference that the rapidly shifting demographics of Texas had Republicans "running scared because they know that this state is changing and they're afraid of the consequences."

Hispanics are forecast by the official Texas state demographer to surpass non-Hispanic whites as the largest group later this year.

Former Democratic Representative Beto O'Rourke, speaking during the same news conference, urged the U.S. Congress to pass expanded voting rights to stymie the vote-restriction efforts in Republican-controlled states, so that the United States would not revert to "Jim Crow 2.0."

Vote on Texas bill to make voting tougher blocked by no quorum
 

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Comments (36)
Cody Heck
Cody Heck Jun 04, 2021 8:14AM ET
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Glad us 99 percenters can all stay nice and divided for the benefit of the 1 percent.
José Yanguas
José Yanguas Jun 01, 2021 3:21AM ET
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The only reason the left opposes this laws is because it makes them far more difficult for them to commit fraud. End of the story.Pretending black and hispanics can't vote because the process is more complex also proofs how racists Democrats really are
Anthony Anthony
Anthony Anthony Jun 01, 2021 1:42AM ET
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Harder to vote is better than not able to vote. Don't be greedy.
Jason Zou
Jason Zou May 31, 2021 10:28PM ET
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Shame on Republicans
Frederick Chotsky
Chotsky May 31, 2021 10:28PM ET
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Jason Zou took a poo! I'm a poet and didn't know it!
Jason Zou
Jason Zou May 31, 2021 10:28PM ET
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Frederick Chotsky You live on poos all your life, you didn’t realize it.
Benjamin USA
Benjamin USA May 31, 2021 10:13PM ET
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Oh wow the right wing snow melt is coming in hot today! Its a flood! As a Texan, I am glad that these blatant supression tactics failed.
Frederick Chotsky
Chotsky May 31, 2021 10:13PM ET
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Badakathcare! You're a lying dog faced pony soldier! And clean and articulate, that's a fairy tale, man!
Benjamin USA
Benjamin USA May 31, 2021 10:13PM ET
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Bill Melton
Bill Melton May 31, 2021 10:13PM ET
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Benjamin, it's not over, yet. As a Texan and versed in Texas history, all you have to do is look at LBJ's robbing of an senate election with fraud. Gov Abbot will call special election. Dems ridiculous tantrums won't survive.
Millennial Dip Buyer
Millennial Dip Buyer May 31, 2021 9:35PM ET
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Maybe the problem is with how ID is issued, not using it as a requirement for voting.  Nearly every western country requires ID for voting.  Not sure why it gets turned into a race issue in the US.
Special Forces
Special Forces May 31, 2021 8:44PM ET
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This movement started after Loser Trumps unsubstantiated claim of voter fraud. No validated Proof of voter fraud PERIOD.
Bill Melton
Bill Melton May 31, 2021 8:44PM ET
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Wrong. Currently it is documented five states violated their own election laws. Largest county in Arizona has lost or deleted database files of voting. The original and changes of voting serial numbers don't match. Pennsylvania sent out 865,000 mail in ballots. What was returned was twice that amount - over 1,600,000. The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced 134 felony charges were filed against Gregg County Commissioner Shannon Brown and three co-defendants in connection to an alleged vote harvesting scheme. Facts. Period.
Special Forces
Special Forces May 31, 2021 8:44PM ET
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, Wrong-mariposa country did not delete or loose voter files as the so call auditors could not locate subject files as one check of your reply...Stop spreading untrue information that is easy to validate. Smart readers will fact check what they read.
Bill Melton
Bill Melton May 31, 2021 8:44PM ET
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The found, all of a sudden, databases showed the serial numbers did not match original voting records As I mentioned above.You should take your own advice and validate your posts. In addition, as mentioned in earlier post, five states violated their own election laws. Facts vs ideology.
Benjamin USA
Benjamin USA May 31, 2021 8:44PM ET
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Bill Melton has no legal birth certificate. He was born in Argentina and not valid citizen. See how I can make up stuff too?
Bill Melton
Bill Melton May 31, 2021 8:38PM ET
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MLB moved their all-star game because Georgia state law requires photo ID for voting. Irony is you need a photo ID to get Will Call tickets at Atlanta Braves game.
Bill Melton
Bill Melton May 31, 2021 8:33PM ET
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I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature. Article 10 funds the legislative branch. No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities. Stay tuned.~ Gov Abbott of Texas
Patrick Joly
Patrick Joly May 31, 2021 8:09PM ET
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wow. this subject is a bit sensitive for my USA brothers! :)
 
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