DALLAS — Now that the special session is underway in Austin, expect the action to come fast and furious.
Hughes said he is well aware of the possibility that Democrats could stage another walkout to break quorum, like they did in the closing hours of the regular session.
“The rules allow the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the house to put a call on the House and the Senate. When they do that, they lock the doors and they send the DPS to arrest the absent members,” the Tyler Republican said on Inside Texas Politics. “I don’t think we get cuffed or anything. But they bring the members back to restore and preserve a quorum.”
Hughes doesn’t think that will be necessary, but it certainly adds a level of intrigue to an already fraught special session. The big driver of that tension is the election bill, but the legislation being considered now isn’t as stringent as the version debated during the regular session. One change includes adding an extra hour to Sunday voting.
“You can do not five, but six hours of Sunday voting. You have to do six hours anytime between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. So they can do afternoon, morning, whenever they want to do it,” Senator Hughes said.
The new version also removed the provision that would have allowed poll watchers to use cameras. But the bill does require a camera providing a live stream from the central counting room.
“Whenever those ballots are brought in, they’re going to be on camera the whole time. Also the signature process, where they… compare the signatures on those applications for ballot by mail and on the envelopes to make sure they’re accurate, that’s going to be recorded," said Hughes.
He said you can’t see the signature, but you can see who’s in there verifying the signatures. Hughes said that ensures the process is fair and accurate, which he claims is overall goal of his legislation.
“The voters are trying to get it right," he said. "We want to make sure they’re able to cast a ballot fairly and cleanly and they know their ballot is going to be counted accurately.”