87th LegislatureElections 2022FederalIssuesState HouseState SenateO’Rourke, Democrats Rally Against GOP Election Bill as Lawmakers Gear up for Round Two

A Dallas Democrat characterized debating election reform with Republicans as “negotiating with terrorists.”
June 22, 2021
On Father’s Day, a few hundred demonstrators gathered near the south steps of the Texas State Capitol to protest Republican-backed election reform proposals and hear from a lineup of speakers that included Beto O’Rourke and one lawmaker who said her colleagues who supported Senate Bill (SB) 7 are terrorists.

Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Dallas) described her thought process and the nature of her conversations with the Democratic leadership in the Texas House on the night they defeated the conference committee report for SB 7.

“Sadly enough — God bless the senior leadership, ’cause they’re way smarter than I am, I promise — but they were trying to talk to people, they were trying to negotiate,” Crockett recalled.

“And I said, ‘It’s become evident that they’re actually just terrorizing us. I’m not talking and negotiating with terrorists.’ It’s time to get walking, and that’s what we did.”

O’Rourke urged demonstrators at the event to remain active during the special session Gov. Greg Abbott has pledged to call to revisit election reform, among other items of business.

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“Number one, we’ve got to make sure that between now and the special session that will be called by our governor, that absolutely will have a dog—- elections bill on it, that every single one of us reaches out to our state representative, to our state senator. Call them, email them, and march to their offices and see them in person,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke, a former El Paso congressman and a possible 2022 contender for governor, also endorsed federal legislation that would make Election Day a national holiday and prevent states from passing stricter voting laws.

SB 7 was lost on May 30 when Democrats left the House without a quorum by walking out of the chamber on the 139th day of the regular session, which was the deadline to pass conference committee reports.

In an apparent act of retribution for the walkout, Abbott vetoed Article X of the appropriations bill, a move that will deprive the legislature of funding beginning on September 1.

Abbott has said he will place the election reform bill on the agenda of one of the special legislative sessions. Multiple Democrats are considering breaking quorum again, even if it means leaving the state.

Rep. Richard Peña Raymond (D-Laredo) wrote in a text message to The Texan, “Breaking a quorum is something that is going to continue to be an option. And it may well take leaving the state to achieve it.”

“Voting is the foundation of our democracy and is our voice in government. If it means breaking quorum against and leaving the state, I will do whatever it takes to protect the voting rights of Texans,” said Rep. Christina Morales (D-Houston) in a written statement to The Texan.

The speakers at the demonstration included Reps. Nicole Collier (D-Fort Worth), Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie), John Bucy III (D-Austin), Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton), Jessica Gonzalez (D-Dallas), Trey Martinez-Fischer (D-San Antonio), Congressman Julian Castro (D-TX-20), Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-35), Democratic Party of Texas Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, and NAACP of Texas President Gary Bledsoe.

Aside from a few verbal exchanges between attendees and a handful of counter-protesters, the rally was peaceful and the Texas Department of Public Safety monitored the event throughout.

Ambulances were present during the event and multiple attendees required medical treatment in Sunday’s 90-degree temperatures.

A breakdown of SB 7 can be found at this link. The bill is reviled by opponents as racist for its protections for poll watchers and tightened early voting hours, while supporters believe the law would help authorities clamp down on alleged instances of fraud.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."