AUSTIN, Texas — In a set of dueling news conferences, Texas Senate Democrats are calling out Gov. Greg Abbott for not meeting with them about the election reform bill. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says the Democrats are mischaracterizing the intent behind the bill.
The Senate Democratic Caucus held a news conference on Wednesday to defend the House Democrats in Washington, D.C., and highlight the issues they have with Senate Bill 1. The election reform bill the upper chamber passed earlier this month.
Some of those issues include banning 24-hour voting and giving partisan poll watchers free movement in the polls. They say Gov. Abbott is failing to lead by not hearing out their concerns.
"Gov. Abbott, you haven't had one Democratic senator in your office,” said State Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston). “You've spent more time with the governor of Florida then you have with these honorable members of the Senate and the House."
Lt. Gov. Patrick held his own news conference after the Democrats, saying their claim that the election reform bill targets and aims to disenfranchise voters of color is simply not true.
“If there are some issues they want to tweak and fix, sit down at the table,” he said. “We're willing to listen. But if they want to talk about issues like 24-hour voting and drive-thru voting, those are non-starters. The reason we don't have drive-in voting is because you're supposed to be able to vote in private. And the 24-hour voting, again in Harris County, you can't have one out of 254 counties make up their own rules, and that's what this bill is about.”
If the House Democrats remain in Washington, the bill will die. But Gov. Abbott says he will call another special session on election reform.
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