During the regular session of the 87th Legislature, election integrity and security bills, House Bill 6 by Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) and Senate Bill 7 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), would have made extensive changes to the election code, including additional voter identification and registration requirements, increases in criminal and civil penalties, and expansion of poll watchers' authority. Both bills failed to pass.
Gov. Greg Abbott added election integrity to the agenda for the special session. House Bill 3 by Rep. Andrew Murr (R-Junction) relates to election integrity and security, and its stated legislative purpose is to prevent fraud in elections in Texas. The bill increases criminal penalties and creates new criminal offenses. HB 3 was heard on July 10 during a House Select Committee on Constitutional Rights and Remedies hearing that lasted until the early hours of the morning. Senate Bill 1 by Hughes, while not an identical companion to HB 3, also relates to election integrity and security, proposes measures to prevent fraud in the conduct of elections, increases criminal penalties, creates new criminal offenses and provides civil penalties. SB 1 was heard in the Senate State Affairs Committee on the same day that HB 3 was considered by the House committee. Each bill progressed in its respective chamber before stalling because of a lack of a quorum in the House.
Texas state legislators in Washington, D.C., were invited to speak before the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties under the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Reps. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), Nicole Collier (D-Fort Worth) and Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) were among those who spoke on behalf of the delegation. Rep. Travis Clardy (R-Nacogdoches) was also invited and testified via teleconference. The subcommittee is chaired by congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Maryland), who has called Texas “Ground Zero” in a nationwide attack on voting rights. While a pair of federal voting rights bills have been filed in the U.S. Senate, neither currently has the support to pass in the regular order of business, and not enough senators support removing the filibuster rule to pass bills with a simple majority.
TAC will continue to monitor and keep you updated about any changes to the status of the Legislature and election legislation.
For more information about this article, please contact Nanette Forbes.