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Texas Election Integrity Bills In Political Spotlight During Hearing At US Capitol

WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) - Some Texas state lawmakers testified before Congress Thursday, July 29, about the controversial election integrity bills proposed by State Republicans.

During the Congressional hearing, Democratic members of Congress praised the Texas Democrats who left Austin for Washington, D.C. to keep the elections integrity bills from passing.

Republican members of Congress scolded the Democrats and told them they should return to the Texas Capitol.

The hearing by the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties was called Democracy in Danger: The Assault On Voting Rights In Texas.

Some Republicans rejected that.

State Democratic lawmakers Nicole Collier of Fort Worth, Senfronia Thompson of Houston, and Diego Bernal of San Antonio testified there was no widespread voter fraud in Texas during the 2020 election and said federal intervention in the form of legislation was needed to block the state's proposals, which they say are designed to keep people of color from voting.

They criticized the bills from outlawing 24 hour voting and drive-thru voting for everyone that Harris County provided last year.

None of the state's 253 other counties followed suit.

Collier defended their decision to leave Austin and break quorum. "There was no interest, even no attempt to work and compromise and collaborate with our colleagues on this. Our backs were up against the wall. There was no more discussion."

Thompson agreed and said they had no other choice but to leave Texas. "I'm the voice of my constituents, and If I had to walk to Washington, DC to get you to hear what I had to say to fight for my constituents, I'd use any means necessary to get my point over."

Republican State Representative Travis Clardy of Nacogdoches testified virtually from Austin.

He said the bills would expand early voting in Texas and are designed to make it more difficult to cheat. "To be sure, there is no assault on voting rights in Texas. Let me say this to my Democratic colleagues here with you today. It's time to come home. Enough is enough. You've had your fun. It's time to get back to work. You know as well as I do, this bill has been negotiated in good faith and deserves your attention."

Collier also criticized a recently discovered provision of the bills, first reported by Texas Monthly.

The report said that an elections expert testified during a state legislative committee hearing that the provision could disenfranchise thousands of Texas residents who apply to vote by mail.

The bills would require voters to put either part of their social security number or their drivers license number on their vote by mail applications.

The numbers would be compared to their voter registrations.

Some people only have one of those numbers on file, and if voters don't put the correct number on there, the application would be rejected.

Collier said the bills give no chance to correct it. "If it's not the same exact number that's on file, my ballot does not meet the standards and the requirements under this bill."

Republican Congressman Byron Donalds of Florida's 19th Congressional District responded to Collier. "If you have a technical issue, then the job of you and your colleagues is in the Texas legislature, not here to make sure those technical changes can be made."

Collier said, "That's why we're here. We tried to work with our counterparts but every amendment that was presented was declined."

North Texas Republican Congressman Pat Fallon of the 4th District later told the hearing that he received a text from Republicans in Austin. "They are aware of it. They said they discussed it with y'all and they are going to cure it with an amendment so we spent a lot of time on something that's going to be fixed."

CBS 11 reached out to Congressman Fallon's office for more details, but has not heard back.

During a news conference held by the Democratic lawmakers who testified, Representative Thompson said they haven't heard from Texas Republicans about this.

"No, and we are certainly waiting to hear about that since he had some kind of contact they ought to tell him that we're wanting to hear that same kind of information."

While Democrats in Washington and in Texas want Congress to pass federal legislation that would block the state's measures, there are still not enough votes in the U.S. Senate to start debate on them.

Because the Texas House lacks a quorum, no bills have been debated in House committees or in the full chamber during the special session, which is set to end August 7.

Governor Greg Abbott told CBS 11 earlier this month the next special session will begin a day later and that he will continue to call special sessions until the elections integrity bills and other legislation are passed.


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