The Texas Senate on Tuesday, July 13, passed a GOP-backed election integrity bill that will ban drive-thru voting and require video surveillance. However, some Democratic senators fled the state seeking to avoid voting on election bills.
In an 18-4 party-line vote, the state’s Senate passed the bill, known as Senate Bill 1, which they ensure will be easy to vote and hard to cheat in Texas.
According to Fox News, eight Senate Democrats fled the state for Washington D.C. in a move to stall passing the House’s version of the bill, but a quorum in the Senate was maintained with 22 of its 31 members present, allowing for the passage of the bill.
Under the legislation, introduced by Sen. Bryan Hughes, a ban would be implemented on drive-thru voting, video surveillance would become a requirement, and tracking devices would be installed on all electronic devices used to count ballots to follow “input and activity.”
Changes would be made to the state’s poll-watching system, and mail-in voting would receive renewed scrutiny—requiring all voters to include a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number on their ballot.
The Republicans argued that the bill will verify voter citizenship through driver’s licenses and jury duty rolls and that the laws would secure the elective process. However, the Democrats have claimed the laws are suppressive attempts to block voter turnout.
“Rather than continuing to fruitlessly debate Republicans who refuse to legislate in good faith, Texas Senate Democrats decided to take matters into their own hands in order to secure the voting rights of Texans – especially voters of colors, seniors and those with disabilities—and work with our partners at the federal level to pass voting rights legislation that would rein in discriminatory voter suppression laws and unfair redistricting practices,” the Democratic senators said in a joint statement.
More than a dozen Democrat legislators fled Texas to Washington D.C. one day earlier, avoiding a special session scheduled by Gov. Greg Abbott to address several bills, including election reform that Democrats oppose.
Abbott criticized the attitude of the Democrats, accused them of not doing their job and using taxpayer money in the meantime. The governor said that he would arrest those Democrats to take them to the legislature to do their job as soon as they set foot back in Texas.
Under Texas law, other state legislators can ask to arrest their colleagues who don’t show up to vote.
However, President Joe Biden lauded the Texas Democratic fugitives, applauding their “courage,” according to White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre.
“He applauds their courage and adds to the urgency for passage of the For the People and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement acts, along with the all-of-government effort we have launched and the movement he’s calling for today to overcome this moment with voter turnout and voter education,” Jean-Pierre said of Biden on Tuesday.
So far, 17 states have introduced 28 new laws on voting regulation following the 2020 presidential election, which some Republicans suggested the rise in mail-in voting left room for fraud, according to Fox News.