Internet Catches Texas Senate Fudging Time-Stamps On Abortion Bill
from the isn't-that-a-crime? dept
What with all that’s going on in the world, you may have missed the news that the state of Texas was attempting to introduce a controversial bill that would close down a ton of abortion clinics. The bill had first failed to pass the state senate, but Governor Rick Perry demanded a special 30 day session which would bring the bill back up for debate. There was a deadline for the bill, which would have had to be voted on and passed on June 25th to become law, leading to a fairly impressive filibuster effort by Senator Wendy Davis. The entire thing was internet-y already, with scores of people tuning in live on YouTube to watch Davis go on, while Texas Republicans attempted to find procedural methods for ending her filibuster. It was all the more impressive due to various filibuster rules in Texas law, such as when Republicans complained that she had had someone assist in putting on a back brace, since by rule she wasn’t allowed any assistance in standing straight up without leaning during her filibuster. #StandWithWendy trended on Twitter, a portion of the internet poured through Texas legislative rules for discussion points, and even President Obama was reportedly glued to YouTube.
In the end, Davis’ efforts paid off, with her pushing her filibuster just long enough to delay a hurried vote from being taken before midnight. Liberals rejoiced, conservatives lamented. And then, dear friends, things got really strange.
In a desperate effort to pass a controversial bill that would shutter hundreds of abortion clinics in Texas, a slew of Twitter sleuths, including Circa’s Anthony De Rosa and former Reuters social media editor Matthew Keys, discovered that the state legislature altered official state documents to show that the vote was passed before the midnight deadline.
In actuality, the Texas state senate did not pass the bill, SB 5, in time—thanks to defeaning cheers from the gallery from supporters of State Senator Wendy Davis, who spent more than 10 hours filibustering a vote.
De Rosa and Keys managed to get screen grabs from the Texas Senate’s page that detailed the proceedings of that particular bill. In the immediate aftermath, it listed the date of the vote being recorded as 6/26, which was past the deadline. Shortly after, and as of this writing, the page has been altered to show the vote being taken on 6/25, which would have been within the deadline. As Gawker notes, this is an extremely serious matter.
So what happened? Did someone tamper with official state documents? It would seem so, and that’s a crime.
And no, according to experts like tech policy analyst Kathy Gill, this is almost certainly not an innocent accident.
In order to change something like this, someone has to change the database. And things like votes and official times, they’re often (usually?) automatically generated also.
In other words, changes like this are deliberate.
Now, you may not like abortion and you may not care for filibusters, but no matter what your ideology you had damned well better be against the bullshitting of the constituents. The internet certainly is, having already sprung an official White House petition to defend the filibuster and preserve proper voting procedure. But the real beauty of this story is that it’s thanks to the internet that this was found out so quickly and spread in such a viral fashion.