WASHINGTON, D.C. — After hours of late-night debate, Texas House Democrats successfully amended some of the most concerning aspects of the Republican voter suppression bill, Senate Bill 7. Among the amendments were provisions to lower the criminal penalties that Republicans had proposed regarding election proceedings, allowing partisan poll watchers to be removed if they caused disruptions at the polling site and loosening liability for election volunteers and judges who make honest, unintentional mistakes.
The amendments were Democrats’ efforts to reduce the harm of a bill that will likely pass no matter what — Republican legislators and the Texas governor have been determined to enact new voter suppression legislation, with two competing state House and Senate bills making their way up to the governor’s desk over the last few months. Democrats delayed S.B. 7’s advancement by extending debate with dozens of questions for the bill’s proponents. At 3 a.m. on Friday morning, the bill passed a second House reading, mostly along party lines.
The bill will face a third House reading and vote on Friday, after which it will move back to the state Senate for approval.