Defeated Democrats face reality as Texas House passes election bill

AP Photo/Eric Gay

It’s a victory for Texas Republicans that was inevitable. The Texas House passed an election integrity bill after twelve hours of debate on Thursday. The Texas Democrat members tried to stop the House’s work on election reform and suffered national humiliation for their political stunt. The bill passed 79-37.

The election bill is being portrayed today as a voting restriction bill by the Democrat-controlled media. The bill passed on a mostly party-line vote, with opposition to the bill voiced by one Republican representative from San Antonio. Rep. Lyle Larson, a member of the House Elections Committee, described the bill as based on “a lot of political b.s.” from Donald Trump. The bill passed after 11:00 p.m. after debates on 60 amendments. Rep. Andrew Murr, the current bill’s author, said at the beginning of the day, “I do not believe that this bill suppresses votes,” and insisted it instead was designed to create “uniformity” across the state’s election laws.

House Speaker Dade Phelan tried to keep the debate civil and asked that words like ‘racism’ not be used. It’s been the Democrats’ tactic to label the bill as racist, Jim Crow 2.0, and one that is meant to suppress minority voters. What it really does, though, is provide uniformity of voting rights and opportunity across the state. The whole reason for the election bill is due to the actions of a rogue rookie progressive county clerk in Harris County (Houston), the largest and most diverse county in Texas. He took it upon himself to change voting laws to suit and promote his political agenda. The excuse given at the time was the pandemic necessitated the changes. People were too afraid to vote in traditional ways, he said, due to the pandemic.

Early during the bill’s debate, House Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) asked members to keep things civil during what he clearly expected to be a contentious day of debate. He then specifically made it known that he “would appreciate members not using the word ‘racism’ this afternoon,” a notable ask considering Democrats have called the bill “Jim Crow 2.0” due to the ways they allege it will make voting more difficult for voters of color.

But later that afternoon, while debating a Democratic amendment to the bill put forth by state Rep. Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas), his colleague Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin) did just that in a question about past federal court rulings referenced by Anchía in which the Texas Legislature was found to have passed laws that intentionally discriminated against minorities.

“Intentional discrimination against people of a certain race: is that racism?” Hinojosa asked, prompting more than a few gasps from her fellow representatives. After Anchía said he thought that was a fair interpretation, Phelan banged his gavel.

“We can talk about racial impacts of this legislation without accusing members of this body of being racist,” Phelan said. Hinojosa replied that “Respectfully, I’m not accusing members of this body.”

The bill was necessary solely because of the blatant disregard for election laws that the Harris County Clerk showed throughout the lead-up to early voting and continued to election day. He tried to mail ballots to every registered voter in the county (a population of over 2 million people) as well as set up voting places away from polling locations. Texas already had more generous early voting opportunities than most states and recent elections have seen record numbers of voters.

The partisan tensions underscoring the ongoing fight were perhaps best illustrated by lawmakers’ debate over how the bill takes aim at diverse, Democratic Harris County, the state’s most populous, where officials last year instituted a series of voting initiatives meant to widen access to the ballot. That included creating overnight early voting to accommodate voters for whom regular hours don’t work, and drive-thru voting that was used by 1 in 10 of those who voted early in person in the 2020 election.

The election bill delivers uniformity across the state. Harris County or any other county will not be able to go rogue and make up the rules as voting proceeds. Aggressive young Democrats have to follow the rules like everyone else. One major area is mail-in voting. Democrats want universal mail-in voting in Texas. The potential for abuse it creates for actions like ballot harvesting is real. The bill also will allow driver’s license information for mail-in ballots to verify that the voter is a citizen.

During his initial presentation on the legislation, Murr defended the bill by noting that it incorporated proposals championed by Democrats, including a new correction process for mail-in ballots.

“It contains language offered by both Republicans and Democrats, both senators and representatives during that process,” Murr said. “It demonstrates that all viewpoints have been and are being considered regardless of party affiliation in an effort to draft sound and thoughtful policy.”

Today there will be a mostly ceremonial vote taken in the House for final approval. Then it moves to the Senate where there is no doubt it will be passed. Then Governor Abbott will sign it into law.

The Texas Democrats ran from their duties as elected officials. They walked out of the general session in the closing hours to prevent a vote on election law. They fled the state at the invitation of national Democrats as the first special session began. National Democrats used the Texas Democrats as their useful idiots and it ended up not playing well for them back home. Texans don’t respect cowardly runners, they expect elected officials to stand and fight for their beliefs. In the end, the only thing accomplished by the Texas fleebaggers was to delay the passage of the voting integrity bill by a matter of weeks. It was always going to pass with a quorum present. The Texas Democrats enjoyed a summer vacation in D.C. and exposed themselves as the unserious, narcissistic people they are.