Texas House Passes Voting Bill as G.O.P. Nears a Hard-Fought Victory


“If you think that you’re winning today,” State Representative Senfronia Thompson, a long-serving Democrat from Houston, told her Republican colleagues on Friday, “you will reap what you sow.”

Republicans’ response was, in essence, that it was not their job to entice more people to vote.

During debate on Thursday, State Representative Andrew Murr, a Republican from rural Kerrville, applied Texas Republicans’ mantra of personal responsibility to voting. “I’m not sure the goal of the state is to actively seek out voters,” he said. “The state is not so proactive that it tries to grab all the voters.”

Several late amendments to the bill addressed the integrity of voting and ballot counting systems, an outgrowth of former President Donald J. Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud in last year’s election. Some passed, like a requirement that large Texas counties provide livestreaming video of ballot-counting areas. Others did not, such as a Republican amendment to conduct a “forensic audit” of the 2020 election in Texas.

One of the last amendments on Thursday was aimed at avoiding criminal prosecutions of formerly incarcerated people for voting — people like Crystal Mason and Hervis Rogers — by instructing judges to tell those convicted of felonies that they are ineligible to vote.

In addition to voting on the elections bill on Friday, the House is also considering a number of Republican priorities that have made 2021 among the most conservative legislative sessions in the history of Texas, including increasing funding for building a border wall and a bill on “censorship” by social media platforms.

The House’s vote on Friday most likely signaled the end of drama that began in late May when, in the closing hours of the Texas Legislature’s regular session, Democratic House members fled the chamber to stop Republicans from passing a similar bill.

An irate Mr. Abbott called a special session to begin in early July, urging legislators to consider a voting bill along with proposals to direct more money toward border security, restrict transgender youths’ participation in interscholastic athletics and limit access to abortion, among other conservative priorities. More than 50 House Democrats, led by their progressive wing, organized two charter flights from Austin to Washington, where they were initially greeted as heroes by congressional Democrats in their shared fight to enact new federal voting protections.



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