Voting bill the focus of Day 2 of Texas Legislature special session

Democratic state senators said they have what amounts to "compromise legislation" for changes to Texas voting laws.

They announced a number of bills related to voting in the second day of the special session, including one named in honor of a political icon in Texas:  the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan.

The handful of Democrats in the Texas Senate held a news conference Friday, one day before the only public hearing on proposed voting legislation will be held.

Democrats compared the Republican election integrity bill to laws of the 60s that made it harder for some communities to vote.

"Now we're seeing the sequel Jim Crow 2.0, and if y'all know anything about sequels, they're always worse than the first movie," said State Senator Carol Alvarado (D-Houston).

Senate Democrats spoke out at what they see as a horror movie being made in the Texas Legislature, as both the House and Senate grapple with Republicans' so-called election integrity bills.

Since the 2020 election, some 20 states - most with Republican-majorities - have passed similar measures.

"The big lie is the 2020 election was stolen. You as well as I know that’s a damn lie," said State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas).

Senate Democrats, to counter what they view as voter restricting Republican legislation, are planning to introduce the Barbara Jordan Fair Elections Act next week.

"Important legislation like this ensures all eligible voters in the state of Texas can have their voices heard," said State Senator Beverly Powell (D-Fort Worth).     

"I think the Democrats are mostly looking to provide an alternative for their supporters as to what an elections bill should be, in contrast to the Republican bill," explained SMU political science professor Cal Jillson.

The public has only one day to speak about the Republican bill, Saturday is the only day in this called session for public hearings.

Both the House and the Senate are conducting their hearings at the same time.

Democrats said the hearing will provide a record for lawsuits if the GOP legislation passes.

"So that’s what you're doing. You're telling your story, you're telling your experience of what it looks like to be a voter in Texas," said State Representative Jasmine Crockett (D-Dallas).

"We're asking everyone to wake up and pay attention to the attempts that are being made for you to exercise your right to vote," said State Senator Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio).

The best Democrats can hope for is some sort of political negotiation, and the House of Representatives may be open to that, more so than the Senate.

After losing ground to Republicans in the last election, Texas Democrats don't have the numbers to stop it. They can only hope to soften the impact.

The division between Democrats and Republicans in Texas appears to be growing by the day.