Texas Legislature Changes Timestamps on SB5 Votes

UPDATE 12.32 am 2.51 am 11.50 pm Pacific
SB5 did not pass.

Later on Wednesday, Gov. Perry called a special session for July 1.

There was drama afoot in Austin today as Democrats filibustered a sweeping anti-abortion bill that Republicans had been unable to pass during the regular legislative session.

As the clock ticked down, chanting in the gallery shut down business on the floor.

And there was more drama after midnight when someone changed the datestamps of the votes taken on SB 5.

Here’s my screen capture at 10.59 pm Pacific. I was clued to the fact that the legislature’s website was displaying what my eyes and ears heard as I watched the livestream: two votes were taken after midnight.

TX legislature record

Votes on Texas SB5 took place after midnight.

Moments after I tweeted the screen capture, I was unable to access the webpage.

Unable to access page

And when it finally refreshed, all votes were recorded as having taken place before midnight on June 25.

Texas SB 5 votes changed

The timestamp on the votes taken on SB5 changed; this is 11 pm Pacific.

Why is this important? Because the special session ended at midnight.

In my experience (I’ve done web work since 1993 or so), pages like this one are automatically generated from a database file. In other words, a person doesn’t code the page.

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.

Added:
The Texas Legislative Reference Library contains an anonymous statement saying that the official record is that the vote occurred on June 25 and that no one asked staff to make the change.

Davis told the Houston Chronicle that official documents had been deliberately altered. And Sen. Leticia Van De Putte (D) told Texas Public Radio that “Republicans in the Senate, including the lieutenant governor, asked clerks” to make the time change.

Regardless, the LRL statement confirms that the change was deliberate.

Deliberate and not unnoticed.

With 180,000 folks watching the livestream and thousands more watching on Twitter, the event was under a social media microscope.

GOP machinations — and the changing of the date on the web can only be appears to be characterized like this — failed.

But even in admitting defeat, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) stretched the truth.

Here’s the Storify (12.22 am Pacific)


To read blogs reactions to this vote GO HERE.

  

29 Comments

  1. This give the TX Dems grounds for a legal challenge.

  2. Congratulations to all of those involved in stopping a really dumb bill. I would like to think that this would encourage our legislators throughout the U.S.A. to start solving our more urgent problems.

  3. Well done, Kathy.

    Stayed up til way past midnight and could not believe my eyes what the Reps. tried to do (hold an illegal session and an illegal vote). But then again….

  4. I watched this one until after midnight and close out thinking it had passed. So good to wake up and read this one Kathy…What in the heck was the Republican Texas Legislature thinking? What the galley and women of Texas did needs to move to the Congress…Ann Richards,who opened the galley, must of been smiling down from haven late last night…

  5. The question I have is, “When does somebody go to jail for this?”

  6. Wendy Davis adhered to the amazingly meticulous set of rules of filibuster — standing without peeing or having a drink of water for 13 hours, telling amazing and heartbreaking stories of choice and tragedy — and bested those who made the rulebook. And then the pondscum Texas GOP, finding that they had lost, had the temerity to try and outright cheat. Not a rules infraction, not a misunderstand, but a flagrant, blatant, straight-up cheat. The rules clearly have the purpose of allowing white men to impose their will on everyone else, down to their very bodily functions, their bodily autonomy, their families. People need to be fired. People need to go to jail.

  7. Truly roro, we did see the worst and best of Texas last evening….

  8. Agree with Robert and roro 100%. Who though will bring charges?
    It sure would be a shot in the arm to know that our system works for the little guy instead of always against him.

  9. This sounds like voting fraud to me. I thought only Democrats rigged elections.

  10. @roro80, one of the issues is how one interprets the “scope of the filibuster” and “what is and what is not ‘germaine’” to the bill. Unfortunately, that is not clearly defined in the TX State Senate rulebook and is left up to the interpretation of the Lt. Governor. Parliamentary shenanigans are nothing new to TX state politics as was evidenced throughout the day during the filibuster.

    If Governor Goodhair doesn’t call another special session, then look for the next political to happen with redrawing the boundaries of Ms. Davis’ district, which had been created due to the VRA.

  11. Gov. Rick Perry has just called for a 2nd special session for July 1.

  12. In my experience (I’ve been an IT admin on the Internet since 1991 or so), pages like this one are automatically generated from a database file. In other words, a person doesn’t code the page. BUT the source data is often entered by a person, which is the key part. I’d say the old axiom “never assume malice what can be explained by stupidity” is what’s in affect here.

    I’d guess that the database timestamp field is based upon when the record was created, but the data is added to the database by a person so it would *not* be an exact time as I’m guessing the gavel to record voting closure time isn’t electrified and tied to the database. So I disagree that things like votes are electronically recorded automatically into databases (having done some government related IT work… I can practically guarantee that nothing is done automatically)

    Looking at the Texas legislature procedural rules makes it pretty obvious that it is digitally entered into the website *after* being written into the Journal of the Senate. Because the website is NOT the authoritative record, the Journal of the Senate is, I’d say that *no* assumptions should be made from the website. More so having again having deal with government, the Senate Clerk didn’t officially enter anything into the website, I can pretty much guarantee an intern did it manually later.

    Again as the website isn’t the official record repository (go look through the 175 page Texas Senate Rules pdf). Trying to claim that there was some crazy conspiracy because some timestamps on the unofficial website were changing back and forth for half an hour after a vote that was down to the wire I gotta say is pretty lame… sure if the official clerks record book (again not on the website) was being changed it be up for a multipage conspiracy rant but this is just stupid.

  13. isgk, I am sure many people with knowledge equal to or greater than yours have already looked into this matter. Thanks

  14. Yes, there will be another special session. Anyone know how much they cost?

    RE the dates — information about the votes is entered manually into something unspecified by the legislature. And time of entry is automatically generated according to the state.

    That means someone had to deliberately edit the file (where-ever it lives) to change those dates. Who in GOP leadership made that call? No one is naming names:

    http://tpr.org/post/van-de-put.....ing-record
    http://blog.chron.com/texaspol.....ilibuster/

    International Business Times quotes TMV:
    http://www.ibtimes.com/changin.....er-1324549

  15. @sheknows

    Exactly, which is why I’m doubting this claim, as no major news outlets are agreeing with it. I can believe that my search ability might not be perfect but one would think that if this direct, intentional, spiteful, illegal activity to intentionally undermine the ruling, would be thought of as valid it would be somewhere on one of these sites (heck if true I’d expect it to be front page everywhere):

    huffingtonpost.com
    msnbc.com
    cnn.com
    nytimes.com
    usatoday.com
    washingtonpost.com
    politico.com

  16. And here from the Dallas news confirms what I was saying

    1) The timestamp is entered automatically into the database based upon when it was manually entered
    2) Data is entered by a person manually
    3) The website is an UNOFFICIAL record, the official record is available 24 hrs later.
    4) In the chaos after they were unable to hear over the protestors the official time so it went back and forth until they got the official time
    5) No nefarious evil was the intent

    http://trailblazersblog.dallas.....bill.html/

    Update at 5:38 p.m.: The Texas Legislative Reference Library, which manually updates the Texas Legislature Online system where the vote was recorded released a statement saying that there was a delay between when the vote was taken and when it was recorded. The statement said that the system automatically enters the current day.

    “TLO actions should be considered preliminary until verified against official senate and house records. When the senate took its final actions on SB 5, the LRL floor staff was unable to hear the motions made or the result of votes taken. After midnight the LRL floor staff confirmed that a vote was taken on the motion to concur in house amendments and that the motion prevailed.”

    The statement goes on to say that the entry was revised after confirming that the final vote was on June 25 to reflect the official record.

  17. isgk, there are multiple screenshots of the immediate results showing the vote taking place on the 26th, then being changed to the 25th, then finally being changed back to the 26th, which is when the vote took place. We know it’s when it took place, because there were over 200,000 people watching it livestreamed. A delay in the recording time would not have made a difference, because we watched the vote take place after midnight. Watched the clock turn to midnight, then watched the vote. I mean, I could believe the Texas GOP over my own eyes…? Witnesses abound, dude. The lack of coverage on this issue is part of the problem, so it’s not a huge surprise to me that finding good info on it is tough — CNN was reporting on the calorie content of blueberry muffins when the clock struck midnight in Texas. Honestly the only good coverage I’ve seen has been from bloggers. The argument above about what counts as “germaine” to the bill is not really at issue — the speaker multiple times just outright ignored the Congresswoman who called to end the session after midnight. That’s against the rules. Again, we know this happened because many of us were watching it happen. There were so many problems with the GOP insisting on the rules being followed, while they themselves refused to follow the rules.

    And now we have Perry calling another special session, a 30-day session to get this through. I’d like to note that TX state delegates get paid $7200/year (yep, per year), and are expected to either be so rich they don’t need to have income, or they have to hold down another job. And now they have to go back to Austin for 30 days to fight against or for a bill that 80% of Texans are against.

    I don’t doubt the stupidity of the Texas GOP. That doesn’t mean their long track record of malice goes away, and it certainly doesn’t mean I trust them over my own eyes to tell me what happened.

  18. “CNN was reporting on the calorie content of blueberry muffins when the clock struck midnight in Texas.” You know, what women actually care about…

  19. @isgk — would you please read my links – timestamped prior to your latest comment?

    There are conflicting reports as to who ordered the changes — but it appears that the changes happened AFTER THE LEADERSHIP SAID THAT THE VOTE STARTED BEFORE MIDNIGHT. Which It Did Not.

    Yes. I’m Shouting. I’m POed.

    The REASON CNN ET AL DIDN’T REPORT THIS is because they IGNORED THE STORY. How in the world can you report something when you’ve ignored it? You can’t. The only “media” reporting in real time was the Texas Tribune and the Statesman (to some extent).

    Thanks for reminding me that I have screen captures of all major news sites at 3 am Central time.

  20. Ummmm…what you wrote isn’t even factually accurate, let alone does it “prove” anything. (Not surprising considering you’ve had a hard time finding resources on the subject. I haven’t had a hard time.) The bill didn’t pass because the vote occurred on the 26th, not the 25th.

    I have not used the word “conspiracy” at all, so kindly knock off putting words in my mouth mmmk? So it’s not the “massive GOP conspiracy” that I’m saying wasn’t covered — it’s the whole thing, from the truly awful bill they tried to slip into the special session without anyone noticing, to the filibuster, to all the rule-breaking they did on the floor, to ignoring the call for the end of the session and taking the vote anyway, to the change on the *official* website that reports the happenings in the session, which never should have been or could have been entered incorrectly without backdating, because the event took place after midnight. Any timestamped computer would have recorded the date at the time of entry (after midnight), and everyone in that chamber knew it was after midnight when the vote occurred, making it invalid. Someone had to enter that it was on time, knowing that it was not.

    “Things like this occur when people *want* to hate someone else”

    Oh please. I’m just *looking* for a draconian anti-woman bill that will affect millions of women because I *like* being angry. What are you smoking, dude? I didn’t start this. It is the hate that I’m fighting against. If politics is just some academic exersize in being right to you, instead of a discussion on how people in power exert that power, enact policy, and affect people, then you, sir, are exactly what is wrong with politics. Not me.

    My, but that mask of calm, unbiased observation dropped like lead once someone disagreed with you, the male expert on the subject.

  21. I can no longer bite my tongue and have to say, hey dude, forget about time stamps, forget about databases, forget about web sites — official or unofficial–, forget about manual or automatic entries, forget about conspiracies, forget about your IT admin experience — including your government related IT work — which these days I would not trumpet at all, I saw with my own eyes as did probably hundreds of thousands of Americans that the vote was noty completed until AFTER midnight and was thus illegal. Period. End of discussion.

  22. Also: what Kathy said. And what Dorian said.

  23. isgk, Stop and think for a moment please. MANY have examined what transpired. It is not an OPINION that this happened, it is now fact. The truth is, even if our eyes deceived us and we DIDN’T see what we did at midnight, don’t you think the Republicans would have researched this with an electron microscope to prove their innocence? I am sure they are not leaving their defense up to you and a lone voice on the internet.

  24. NO Isgk, I am saying no such thing. it is YOU who are saying there is a conspiracy. And I made no statement to “back away from”. What I said was this…The state of Texas has looked over the events of that time. THEY have concluded that they LOST the passage of this bill. The reason they have stated that is because they have researched it THOROUGHLY and must agree with the findings.
    I would suggest that since you seem to have information that they do not, you contact the proper authorities and bring it to their attention, not ours. We are convinvced the state of Texas is correct in the final findings.

  25. isgk. You are arguing it was not intentional fraud and to that end can back it up with knowledge and information that no one else seems to be able to do.
    This story was on Diane Sawyer tonight. Also on Colbert, Stewart, CNN today, and MSNBC. Don’t you think the Republicans would take exception to that if they were accused of deliberate wrong doing?
    Not a peep!

  26. You keep telling us to read what you wrote. We read it. I don’t know if you think you wrote something else, but your last line, and the line from the article, says that the vote took place on the 25th. It did not. It took place on the 26th. Factually incorrect statement from you. You keep insisting that the article proves there was no wrongdoing, when it does nothing of the sort. If you think THE WHOLE POINT whether the website is official or not, you don’t under stand the point of points.

    The bill isn’t “stupid and unneeded”, it is malicious and draconian, and women will die as a result of it if it is passed. I think it is pathetic and sad that someone would be so coldly disconnected from real policy consequences that they would insist what you are insisting. People who write malicious and draconian laws to control women, then lie, cheat, and break rules to get it passed, are not somehow immune to criticism or suspicion when the record of the vote magically changes that date from too late to not on time. I believe there is a good possibility that there was malice in the event we’re discussing because there is nothing but malice in the bill, everything the Texas GOP says about the topic of choice and agency drip in malice, and every other tactic used to get the bill through has been stinking of malice. No sniff test needed when the stench of malice overwhelms the senses as it does in this case. There is no need for horns and fangs when we have good, old fashioned sexism and greed for control over others.

    I’ve got a few groups whose power I’d like to see stomped with a boot too. How about we start with oh-so-rational men who like to pretend they’ve got better answers than anyone, even those who directly observed the events in question as they were unfolding. Men who think women are too stupid to read, when in fact it is they who clearly have failed to understand what has occurred. Men who love to hold up their “both sides are equally wrong” attitude as some sort of merit badge even when one side is clearly wrong, and one side is clearly right.

  27. isgk, hi there: please read the commenters rules at the top of the masthead before you comment again.

    Demanding that any commenter or writer answer another commenter, is not in keeping with TMV’s user policy for civility. Neither is attacking commenters or writers re writing that other writers or commenters ‘are the problem,’ with the world, etc.

    Discuss, teach, give facts… abide by the commenters rules which are very few and clear, and all is well and will be well.

    Thanks.

    archangel/ dr.e
    managing editor, themoderatevoice.com

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