Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke completed a 30-mile march for voting rights Saturday in Texas.
O'Rourke, a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, arrived at the Texas Capitol in Austin at approximately 10 a.m. local time Saturday morning, where a Willie Nelson concert with thousands of spectators greeted him, singing, "Vote them out."
"We're in front of the Capitol right here. We've still got people coming in behind us. ... They're welcome to join us and get with all these good people and hear their stories. ... On top of this great music, live music, that we're hearing right now, [I'm] grateful to everyone who's out here," O'Rourke said in a video marking the end of the march.
O'Rourke's four-day march, which originated in Georgetown, Texas, approximately 30 miles outside of Austin, was aimed at celebrating the Democrats who fled the state in an attempt to stonewall voting legislation they claimed would suppress voting rights.
On July 12, at least 51 state lawmakers traveled to Washington, D.C., to block the passage of the state's S.B. 1 and H.B. 3, a pair of bills that would ban drive-thru voting, implement more comprehensive voter identification requirements for mail-in ballots, and prohibit officials from sending voting applications to those who did not request them.
Gov. Greg Abbott ordered a special session to deliberate on the two bills. S.B. 1 was passed by the Senate despite the lawmakers' departure, but H.B. 3 has been stalled as the House lacks the two-thirds quorum necessary to vote on the legislation.
The Democrats, who insisted no taxpayer funds were used in support of the trip, have held several events aimed at promoting voting rights during their stay in the district. They also lobbied Congress in support of the For the People Act, an election overhaul supported by congressional Democrats, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.
Under the Texas Constitution, two-thirds of lawmakers must be present to conduct business, and those who evade the task may be legally required to return. Republicans have vowed to penalize the fugitive lawmakers, with Abbott saying they will be arrested upon returning to the state.
Though no lawmakers have been arrested yet, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan issued an arrest warrant on Sunday for Rep. Philip Cortez, a Democrat who fled with the group. Later that same day, Cortez tweeted he had returned to Washington.
State lawmakers in Texas, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Oregon have employed the tactic of fleeing a state to deny congressional bodies of quorums. Few of these walkouts achieved the desired results.
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Original Author: Carly Roman
Original Location: Beto O'Rourke completes 30-mile march for voting rights