Republicans say they won't pursue part of Texas elections bill in special session that would limit Sunday early voting hours

State Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, on the House floor on May 7, 2021.
State Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, on the House floor on May 7, 2021.

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Two days after House Democrats broke quorum to kill Texas' elections overhaul legislation, Republicans are walking back a controversial provision of the bill, affecting Sunday early voting hours, that they now claim was a typographical error.

They say they plan to use a special legislative session on the bill to correct the proposal.

In the final version of Senate Bill 7, negotiated behind closed doors, the elections bill contained a key change that set a new window for early voting on Sundays, limiting it to 1 to 9 p.m. Democrats and voting rights advocates said GOP lawmakers were targeting get-out-the-vote efforts like "souls to the polls," the longtime practice by Black congregations that encourages members to go vote after Sunday morning services.

In an interview Tuesday with NPR, one of the negotiators, Rep. Travis Clardy of Nacogdoches, said the 1 p.m. start time was an error and that it should have been 11 a.m. Despite his claim, no Republicans raised an issue with the start time during final debate over the bill, and one of them even defended it.

Clardy told NPR that the Sunday start time was "one of the things I look forward to fixing the most" in a special session.

"That was not intended to be reduced," Clardy said. "I think there was a — call it a mistake if you want to — what should have been 11 was actually printed up as 1."

Lawmakers are set to revisit the legislation in a yet-to-be-called special session after Democrats staged a walkout late Sunday night that blocked passage of SB 7 in the regular session, which ended Monday.