Fifteen hours later, members voted in an 18 to 11 party-line vote to approve the bill and send it to the House for further consideration before it can become law.
Before the legislation was even brought to the floor for final consideration, Sen. Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) announced that she intended to filibuster the legislation, saying that she was not doing it “for approval or glory” but “because it’s the right thing to do” for her constituents.
Beginning shortly before 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday night, Alvarado’s filibuster — aided by questions from fellow Democratic senators — ultimately lasted just over 15 hours until 8:50 a.m. on Thursday morning.
“Senate Bill 1 slowly but surely chips away at our democracy,” said Alvarado as she began her filibuster. “Senate Bill 1 is a regressive step back in the direction of that dark and painful history.”
Reading the letter that she sent to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to notify him of her intent to filibuster, Alvarado said the many parts of SB 1 “disproportionately affects seniors, racial and ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities, and will result in the denial of the right to vote for eligible voters.”
Besides giving the Senate another late night, the filibuster accomplished little to delay the progress of the election bill.
The House has still not even convened since it is struggling to secure a quorum, and the Senate has already churned out most of the items Gov. Greg Abbott placed on the special session agenda.
SB 1 — and similar legislation in the lower chamber, House Bill (HB) 3 — have been the source of the most political tension in Texas this year.
Democrats targeted the Republicans’ election integrity plan with opposition during the regular session, decrying it as everything from “a solution in search of a problem” to “Jim Crow 2.0.”
For their part, Republicans have touted the legislation as something that will “make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
House Democrats staged an eleventh-hour walkout at the end of May, shortly before the biennial window for making new laws came to an end, to kill the bill.
In response, Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed the section of the budget that funds the legislative branch — something he placed on the agenda for a special session that began in June along with election reform and several other items.
But lawmakers didn’t accomplish much in the July special session before Democrats staged another quorum break, fleeing to Washington, D.C. to urge Congress to pass sweeping voting laws favored by their party.
While some Democratic senators fled with their colleagues in the House, enough members stayed to maintain a quorum in Texas.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.