Democrats in the Texas legislature have left their state en masse to prevent Republicans there from passing legislation to tighten voting rules.

The move would temporarily paralyze the state’s House of Representatives, which requires the presence of at least two-thirds of lawmakers to vote.

At least 50 House Democrats boarded two private jets from Austin to Washington DC on Monday.

The move comes amid a wave of voting restrictions in Republican-led states.

A crucial first vote was planned for this weekend on broad-voting legislation proposed by Texas Republicans.

The bill would outlaw 24-hour polling places and drive-thru voting, ban ballot drop boxes and expand the rights of partisan vote watchers.

House lawmakers took off Monday afternoon – the first time since 2003 that the state’s Democrats have left Texas to break a quorum.

Texas Democrats said they would not return until the 30-day special session ended next month.

Top Texas Democrat Chris Turner said in a statement: “We are now taking the fight to our nation’s capitol. We are living on borrowed time in Texas.”

Runaway MLAs do so under threat of arrest. Under Texas law, legislators can be legally compelled to return to the state capital, Austin.

Democrats’ action is also expected to put pressure on Washington lawmakers and US President Joe Biden, who is facing calls from activists to do more at the federal level to protect voting rights. Mr Biden, a Democrat, is due to deliver a major speech on the issue in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

It is the second time in six weeks that Texas Democrats have used the walk-out as a delay tactic.

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