Alexa Ura for the Texas Tribune:
The sweeping overhaul of Texas elections and voter access was poised from the beginning of the session to pass into law. It had the backing of Republican leaders in both chambers of the Legislature. It had support from the governor.
Democrats who opposed the bill, chiding it as a naked attempt of voter suppression, were simply outnumbered.
But on Sunday night, with an hour left for the Legislature to give final approval to the bill, Democrats staged a walkout, preventing a vote on the legislation before a fatal deadline.
“Leave the chamber discreetly. Do not go to the gallery. Leave the building,” Grand Prairie state Rep. Chris Turner, the chair of the House Democratic Caucus, said in a text message to other Democrats obtained by The Texas Tribune.
Senate Bill 7, a Republican priority bill, is an expansive piece of legislation that would alter nearly the entire voting process. It would create new limitations to early voting hours, ratchet up voting-by-mail restrictions and curb local voting options like drive-thru voting.
Democrats had argued the bill would make it harder for people of color to vote in Texas. Republicans called the bill an “election integrity” measure — necessary to safeguard Texas elections from fraudulent votes, even though there is virtually no evidence of widespread fraud.
Gov. Greg Abbott said Monday he would veto the section of the state budget that funds the Legislature, hours after a Democratic walkout killed his priority elections bill.
“No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities,” Abbott said in a tweet. “Stay tuned.”
Late Sunday night, enough Democrats left the House to break a quorum and block passage of the elections bill, Senate Bill 7, before a midnight deadline. Calling the bill’s failure “deeply disappointing,” Abbott quickly made clear he would call a special session to get it passed, though he has not specified a timeline.