AUSTIN (KXAN) — At South by Southwest Saturday, a panel of Texas House representatives who broke quorum over the summer reflected on their trek to D.C. to fight a controversial voting rights bill.
The law added new identification requirements for voting by mail, banned 24-hour voting and drive thru voting and established uniform voting hours statewide.
Republicans argued it was needed to ensure election integrity. Democrats said the new proposed rules disproportionately affected minority voters and they fled Texas to break quorum as a result.
Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, (D-San Antonio), reflected on that act Saturday by explaining the fight, feeling as though breaking quorum and crossing state lines was the only and last option since Republicans would not compromise.
“Republicans refused to listen to us, it was ‘my way or the highway,'” Fischer said Saturday. “The impact was going to be on our communities and how many people are going to be disenfranchised.”
“Are there issues in our system? Absolutely. But did we just create a bigger problem? We did,” Rep. Jasmine Crockett, a Democrat representing Dallas, added Saturday.
The bill was eventually passed in the fall during a second special session.
“We also can’t let others abuse those options in order to cheat,” State Sen. Bryan Hughes, (R-Mineola), said at the time. He noted uniform rules were needed to shore up elections.
Still, Rep. Crockett considers the quorum break a success for stirring up national attention on a federal voting rights bill: the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
When KXAN asked her Saturday what it would take to move the needle on that bill now, after months have passed, she said she didn’t know.
Crockett says she wants to take the fight to D.C. herself as a congresswoman. She’s currently in a runoff for the Democratic primary for Texas’ 30th Congressional district.
That election is set for May 24th.