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Texas Democrats Flee State To Block Republican Voting Law

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Texas Democrats explain their decision to leave the state
The Democrats gave a group media conference after landing from their flight

Democratic politicians in Texas have left their state en masse in an effort to prevent Republicans there from passing a law to tighten voting rules.

The move will temporarily paralyse the state’s House of Representatives, which requires at least two-thirds of the 150 members be present for a vote.

At least 50 House Democrats boarded two private jets from Austin to Washington DC on Monday.

The move comes amid a wave of voting restrictions in Republican-led states.

Republicans argue the measures are essential for election security but Democrats see them as an attack on the right to vote.

The bill in Texas would ban 24-hour polling places and expand the authority of partisan poll watchers. A first vote is planned later this week.

The House lawmakers took off on Monday afternoon. When they landed in Washington DC, the Democrats said they would not return until the 30-day special session had ended next month.

Under Texas House rules, absent politicians can be arrested and returned to the house floor. But the authority responsible does not have jurisdiction outside Texas.

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In response to the exodus, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican, said the House would use “every available resource” to secure a quorum.

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Probably only delays the inevitable

Analysis

Texas Democrats are again attempting to prevent state Republicans from passing new voting restrictions – and where they’re going says everything about their ultimate objective.

This fight, in their view, will be won or lost in Washington DC – where Democrats have control – not in Texas, where Republicans call the shots. And not only could federal legislation override the proposed changes to Texas voting laws, it would also block enacted measures in Georgia, Arizona and other key presidential battleground states.

There has been concern among liberals that the Biden administration is not taking seriously the threat state-level voting laws pose to Democratic candidates in forthcoming elections – and has not shown a willingness to take aggressive action in Congress to push through new national rules.

It is, however, a symbolic move. It probably only delays the inevitable in Texas and is unlikely to change the dynamic in Washington, where the Republican Senate minority has more effective means to block the Democrats than simply leaving town.

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