A Texas state Democratic lawmaker has spoken out against the governor’s threat to have her and her colleagues arrested after they fled the state in an effort to block an elections overhaul bill.
Texas Representative Jasmine Crockett told CNN that she was not worried about Governor Greg Abbott’s threat to have every lawmaker who left the state arrested once they return.
“I don’t worry probably because I know the law, and the governor knows the law, as well. I’m a criminal defense attorney, and so I understand that I’ve not committed a crime, so I can’t get arrested,” Ms Crockett said on Tuesday following the governor’s threat.
She added that while the lawmakers could be detained by the state, there was nothing Texas officials could do outside their jurisdiction.
“I’m not worried about the threat of being arrested. The most that can happen is we can be detained, which is why we got out of the state. The governor of Texas has no jurisdiction outside of the state of Texas, along with [the Texas Department of Public Safety],” she said.
Ms Crockett and her Democratic colleagues fled Austin for Washington DC on Monday so they could “refuse to let the Republican-led legislature force through dangerous legislation that would trample on Texans’ freedom to vote”, according to a statement.
Under Texas state law, two-thirds of lawmakers must be present for legislative business to commence.
The decision to leave the state came after Mr Abbott convened a special session to pass several conservative measures, including legislation addressing voting, abortion access, and critical race theory.
The elections bill Texas Democrats were fighting would put limits on early and curbside voting, ban 24/7 voting facilities in outside structures, eliminate straight-ticket voting, and limit the use of ballot drop boxes across the state.
Two issues that Ms Crockett took issue with in the bill was the closing of 24/7 voting facilities and requiring for voters to provide voter ID in order to cast their vote.
“These medical providers that are sitting here trying to save us from a pandemic, they had that option, and they used that option,” she said.
“But more importantly, what we saw is the people who took advantage of actually drive-thru voting. The vast majority were minorities. That’s the problem; that was the target,” she added.
Republicans have argued the bill would improve election security, but Democrats have claimed it would only suppress voters, specifically minority voters.