The Texas Senate approved Senate Bill 1 on Thursday (8/12/21) by a vote of 18-11, along party lines. The passage of the bill increases pressure on Republicans in the House to reestablish a quorum to move the measure forward.
Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Carol Alvarado filibustered for 15 hours to try and stop the legislation. Filibuster rules prevented Alvarado from eating, sitting, leaning on her desk, bathroom breaks or speaking on subjects unrelated to the legislation.
Alvarado concluded her remarks by saying, “My friends, voter suppression anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere. As we draw this discussion to an end, it is my sincere hope that civil acts by everyday Texans -- from the Senate floor to the ballot box -- can help shed the light. What do we want our democracy to look like? Do we want our state to be more or less inclusive? Instead of making it harder to cheat, it makes it harder to vote.”
The sponsor of the bill, Senator Bryan Hughes replied that the measure contained, “Simple, common sense reforms.” Senator Bob Hall called the legislation, “One of the best bills we’ve passed in a long time. It doesn’t matter your background, your ethnicity. It’s aimed at everyone in Texas to ensure that every vote counts.”
A day earlier, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan signed arrest warrants for the 52 Democrat lawmakers who have failed to return to the floor. After being served her warrant, Representative Erin Zwiener said, “I don’t worry about things I can’t control. Nothing about these warrants are a surprise, and they don’t necessarily affect my plans.”
Refusing to attend legislative sessions is in violation of House rules -- it is a civil offense, not a criminal one, Democrats would not be jailed. A group of 45 House Democrats intend to file court documents requesting a temporary protection from arrest.
Senate Bill 1 would require ID when voting, prohibit drive-thru voting, restrict early voting options, require absentee voting request, add criminal penalties for voting law violations, and empower poll watchers, etc.