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Houstonians testify on election bill as Texas House reaches quorum

House Democrats issued a joint statement Monday afternoon saying a quorum isn’t guaranteed going forward.

AUSTIN, Texas — A Republican-led elections bill that Texas House Democrats fled the state in July to try to stop could soon advance to a vote.

On Monday, people traveled to Austin from Houston and Galveston to testify at the public hearing for Senate Bill 1 at the State Capitol.

RELATED: Texas House reaches quorum, will get back to work in second special session

SB1 would mean big changes in Harris County, including no more drive-thru voting and 24-hour voting, which more than 130,000 voters used in the 2020 election.

“We need (those options) in order to get more people actively involved, especially the people who have to work or the people who don’t feel comfortable, especially in COVID times,” said Corisha Rogers of Houston, who signed up to testify against SB 1. “They deserve to have more accessible options to vote.”

Supporters said the bill expands early voting hours at many places and puts extra safeguards in place to ensure votes are counted.

“The people who do the signature verification are not experts, and people’s signatures change over time,” said Bill Sergeant, a former Galveston County election administrator who signed up to speak in favor of SB 1. “If there’s a question there, then this allows it to be cured.”

By late afternoon, the House Select Committee on Constitutional Rights & Remedies had heard more than four hours of testimony on SB1 before the chair called a recess to allow the full Texas House to reconvene as scheduled at 4 p.m.

Speaker Dade Phelan performed a roll call at the request of one House Democrat to verify a quorum was present with 100 members.

RELATED: What is breaking quorum?

After the House gaveled out after 6 p.m., testimony resumed on SB1.

Rep. Jarvis Johnson, a Democrat from Houston, said he was going back to Washington, D.C. to push Congress to pass new federal voting laws.

“The Congress comes back today,” Johnson said. “We’re going to go right back to working with them and working on them, and hopefully they can get something done.”

Johnson estimates more than 20 other House Democrats will join him.

He was one of 30 House Democrats that issued a joint statement Monday afternoon saying a quorum isn’t guaranteed going forward.

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