A Republican-backed measure to overhaul the state’s voting strategy cleared a cardinal House committee successful the legislature connected Sunday greeting aft astir 24 hours of testimony.
July 11, 2021, 11:28 a.m. ET
AUSTIN — After an bonzer all-night hearing, a Republican-backed measure to overhaul the state’s voting strategy cleared a cardinal House committee successful the Texas Legislature connected Sunday morning, advancing the measurement connected an accelerated way toward a ballot successful the afloat 150-member chamber.
The ballot by the House committee, conducted astatine astir 7:30 a.m. aft astir 24 hours of statement and nationalist comment, adheres to Gov. Greg Abbott’s timetable for swift enactment connected the bill, which has called a priority. A ballot by the afloat House connected the measure, which voting rights groups telephone 1 of the astir restrictive successful the nation, is expected this week. All 9 Republicans connected the committee supported the bill, portion the 5 Democrats voted against it.
Mr. Abbott, a Republican, has said that passing a caller voting instrumentality is 1 of his apical priorities. He called the legislature into a 30-day peculiar session, which started Thursday, aft Democrats blocked the measure successful precocious May with a melodramatic 11th-hour walkout from the Capitol.
A State Senate committee, which besides heard hours of grounds connected Saturday earlier a late-hour recess, was besides expected to ballot connected a mentation of the elector authorities erstwhile it returns to enactment arsenic aboriginal arsenic Sunday afternoon.
Hundreds of Texans flocked to the Capitol implicit the play for the committee hearings connected companion voting bills being pushed by Republicans, portion of a nationalist effort by the enactment to enforce caller restrictions connected authorities predetermination systems. Republicans accidental the restructuring is indispensable to amended elector integrity but a big of Democrat-aligned absorption forces are warring what they telephone an unprecedented run to suppress voting.
“This is the azygous top coordinated onslaught connected ideology successful our lifetimes, and possibly successful the beingness of this country,” said Beto O’Rourke, a erstwhile U.S. typical and campaigner for president, who has taken a pb relation for Democrats connected the voting contented and was astatine the Capitol for the hearing
But Sen. Bryan Hughes, the Republican Chairman of the State Affairs Committee, opened the proceeding successful his committee connected Saturday by declaring that the authorities is designed to make a “better predetermination process that’s harmless and accessible.”
House and Senate Democrats person vowed to bash everything indispensable to termination the authorities a 2nd time, but their options are limited. They person hinted that they are prepared to edifice to different bold move, similar staging different walkout, oregon perchance taking the much utmost measurement of fleeing the state.
Studies consistently complaint Texas adjacent the apical of the database of states that marque it harder to registry and vote, which explains, successful part, wherefore the Democrats presumption the stakes arsenic truthful high.
Though retooled from the regular session, the voting bills successful some houses resurrected astir of the ingredients successful the archetypal legislation. Both would prohibition 24-hour voting and drive-through voting sites, summation the transgression penalties for predetermination workers who tally afoul of regulations, bounds what assistance could beryllium provided to voters and grow the authorization and autonomy of partisan canvass watchers.
But the latest bills jettison 2 contentious provisions from the archetypal circular that Democrats had vehemently opposed, removing a regulation connected Sunday voting and a proviso that would person made it easier to overturn an election.
For this weekend’s hearings, Democrats and elector advocacy groups opposed to the bills rallied witnesses from astir the authorities to testify.
State Senator Borris Miles, a Houston Democrat, said 2 busloads of witnesses and a 20-car caravan had made the travel from his district. Both Mr. Miles and Lina Hidalgo, the main enforcement of Harris County, the state’s astir populous, told reporters that the bills would extract a harsh toll successful the Houston portion by dismantling predetermination innovations specified arsenic 24-hour voting that were enactment successful spot during the 2020 election.
“We’re nether attack,” Mr. Miles said.
After getting a precocious commencement connected the voting measurement by spending hours connected a bail overhaul bill, the House committee worked done the nighttime to perceive galore of the astir 300 witnesses who had signed up to testify. Several who were inactive waiting successful the committee country past dawn began to gag astir the aboriginal greeting hr and expressed gratitude to Trent Ashby, the Republican House chairman, for not shutting disconnected testimony.
“Good greeting Mr. Chair, convey you for staying,” said Hector Mendez, representing the radical Texas College Democrats. “Happy 6:30 to each of you,” said different witness.
Although Democrats sought much clip to digest the bill, Mr. Ashby said helium wanted to proceed with a committee ballot due to the fact that of the “compressed nature” of the peculiar session. Before voting to nonstop the measurement to the afloat House, the committee besides rejected 8 amendments offered by Democrats, besides connected party-line votes.
Texas follows respective different battleground states controlled by Republicans that person passed important overhauls of their predetermination laws and enacted caller voting restrictions this year. Since January, astatine slightest 22 bills that marque voting much hard person been signed into instrumentality successful 14 states.