Texas Democrats plan to leave state to stop GOP voting bill

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Democrats in the Texas Legislature were planning Monday to leave the state in a second revolt against a GOP overhaul of election laws, creating another dramatic showdown over voting rights in America.

Dozens of Democratic lawmakers were set to leave Austin before the GOP could take a first vote on a voting bill in the current special legislative session ordered by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

By leaving just days after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott convened a special legislative session, Democrats would again deny the GOP majority a quorum to pass bills, barely a month after their walkout in the state House of Representatives thwarted the first push for sweeping new voting restrictions in Texas — including outlawing 24-hour polling places, banning ballot drop boxes and empowering partisan poll watchers.

It would mark the first time since 2003 that Texas Democrats, shut out of power in the state Capitol for decades, have crossed state lines to break quorum.

The drastic move lays bare how Democrats are making America’s biggest red state their last stand against the GOP’s rush to enact new voting restrictions in response to former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him. More than a dozen states this year have already passed tougher election laws — but only in Texas have Democrats put up this kind of fight.

Over the weekend, Texas Republicans began advancing new election bills in the Legislature that also bring back provisions to ban drive-thru voting, add new voter ID requirements to absentee ballots and prohibit local elections officials from proactively sending mail-in ballot applications to voters.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press.

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