Texas Senate passes elections bill after 15-hour Dems filibuster
By Dianne Gallagher, CNN
The Texas state Senate passed Senate Bill 1, an election overhaul bill that would add new restrictions and criminal penalties to the voting process, Thursday morning on a 18-11 party line vote.
The final vote was taken fewer than 20 minutes after a 15-hour filibuster of the bill from state Sen. Carol Alvarado concluded.
Alvarado, wearing a back brace for support, spoke on the bill for 15 hours and four minutes on her feet without sitting, leaning, eating, drinking or using the restroom — in accordance with Texas rules.
The Houston Democrat concluded her filibuster, surrounded by several of her colleagues who took turns asking questions throughout the night, on the Texas Senate floor just before 9 a.m. CT.
The filibuster itself was mostly symbolic, as there are more than 20 days that remain in the second special session. Alvarado acknowledged on the floor that she would not be able to stop the bill but told the Texas Tribune she wanted to “call attention to what is at stake”.
SB1 includes broad new protection and access for partisan poll watchers, mail-in ballot restrictions, a drive-thru voting ban, restrictions to the early voting timeframe, video surveillance and assistance restrictions.
While the bill does add one extra required hour per day of early voting, it sets a specific timeframe in which voting must be done — banning extended hours and 24-hour voting, a measure used during the pandemic in Harris County that local officials testified was especially popular with voters of color. SB1 also further restricts local election officials, for example, adding criminal penalties for sending unsolicited ballot request forms. Some Democratic amendments, like a cure process for mail-in ballot mistakes, were accepted in the final version of the bill.
The next stop for SB1 would be in the Texas House, which has been paralyzed for a month due to a lack of quorum. Texas House Democrats continue to intentionally break quorum as a method to block election legislation, like SB1 and the House version HB3, from becoming law. The Texas House speaker signed civil arrest warrants for 52 Democrats this week, directing the Sergeant at Arms to send for those members and compel them to return to the House.
The House will attempt to gavel in on Thursday at 4 p.m. CT.
This story has been updated with additional information.
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