Monday, June 21, 2021

Texas Democrats celebrate blocking restrictive voting bill, but warns of future access to voting

“Today is a great day, but I can’t help but feel bitter, frustrated, hurt,” Texas State Representative Trey Martinez Fisher of the San Antonio Democrat told CNN on Monday.

Democrats walked off the floor of the state House late on Sunday, leaving the majority of Republicans without a quorum to require them to approve the bill before the midnight deadline. It effectively killed the bill for this year’s legislative session, but Abbott has already tweeted that he is adding “electoral integrity” to the list of topics that lawmakers will address in a special session, which he will call Are planning

Martinez Fisher pointed to the bill’s time until Memorial Day, saying, “One day we celebrate and honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives to protect freedom and democracy.”

“But so far under Senate Bill 7, the bill we killed last night, the same soldiers could not come home and vote after they were out of their church because of the provisions in this bill.” “How bad it is – we can protect democracy abroad, but when we come home we are going to suppress their vote.”

This measure will make mail-in voting more difficult due to the need to supply more information to voters, preventing local election officials from sending absentee ballot applications to someone who has not requested or encouraged one Are barred from working with get-out-the-vote groups. To vote by texas mail. Among other restrictions, it would prohibit early voting before 1pm on Sunday, effectively limiting attempts to exit the church after “elections to the spirits” that are popular among Black churches .

Texas State Representative Joe Moody, a Democrat, on Monday defended his colleagues’ move to CNN’s John Burman, saying that although Abbott has the ability to call a special session, “at a certain point you have to draw a line and We have to decide what is right and what is wrong. “

Moody said on “New Day”, “What’s wrong is removing access to the ballot, and we all knew the consequences on the democratic side who chose this path, and we were prepared to risk them.”

Democratic State Rep. Nicole Collier said later on Monday that calling a special session for Abbott was “disappointing at a political move and it’s a shame for Texas.”

But when asked by CNN’s Poppy Harlow on the “Erin Burnett Outfront” whether their caucus could walk off the floor again to block the measure during a special session, Collier said the move was “a nuclear option and Surely you always want to try to work and cooperate with your colleagues. ”

Abbott, in a statement on Monday, referred to a special session as the next step in the voting bill.

“Ensuring the integrity of our elections and reforming a broken bail system remains a state of emergency in Texas, which is why these items, along with other priority items, will be added to the special session agenda,” he said. “I hope the legislators will work on their differences before coming back to the Capitol to get on the ground running to pass legislation related to these emergency items and other priority legislation. During the special session, we Will continue to pursue policies that put the people of Texas first. ”

Martinez Fisher described how the decision to break the quorum came to light in an emotionally intense Sunday afternoon meeting with African American, Latino and Asian American Pacific Islander lawmakers, followed by voting among his fellow Democrats that evening.

“We hit an important point, and the senior member – African American, Latino who has been in this position before – said, ‘Now is the time,” he said.

He on Saturday pointed to President Joe Biden, condemning the Texas measure as “un-American” and called for federal voter protection, which is currently stalled in Congress.

“Looking at us from the eyes of the nation, we knew we had to get up and perform in front of our friends in Washington, and as I said last night, Mr. President, we humbly ask you for a federal solution, please give us a federal Vote. Rights Act, “said Martinez Fisher. “What we did last night is the equivalent of crawling on our knees to tell federal officials for (them), the time to act is now – if not Texas, when?”

Comprehensive proposal to rewrite US election laws, Act for peopleIt does not appear that the US Senate has the 60 votes necessary to pass and has no Republican support. Senate Democrats privately indicate concerns Earlier this month about moving forward with a vote on the Voting Rights and Ethics bill that had become a top priority for Democratic leaders and progressive outside groups – at least without making changes at first.

Charlie Bonner, communications director for Voter Engagement Group Move Texas, said Monday that despite the promised Texas special session, which includes consideration of the bill, the bill’s stop would give time for greater public awareness and input on the bill’s content is.

Bonner said, “What it provides us is time for the public to review these materials, for the public to have input on this massive overhaul of the election system that these MPs are trying to jam in the middle of the night Were.” “The public is going to see what they are doing. And now the world’s eyes are on the Texas legislature.”

The story has been updated on Monday with comments by Democratic Texas Rep. Nicole Collier.

CNN’s Eric Bradner, Jade Gordon, Devan Cole and Wesley Brewer contributed to this report.

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