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.