Texas House gives final approval to ballot fraud bill, Abbott priority


Highlights

Under the bill, someone who commits fraud could face up to 10 years in prison.

The Senate would next weigh changes to the bill.

The Texas House gave final approval to a bill Thursday that would increase penalties for mail-in ballot fraud, one of Gov. Greg Abbott’s 20 priorities for the 30-day special legislative session.

The chamber debated Senate Bill 5 for more than three hours Wednesday but quickly passed the measure 92-39 on Thursday. The bill, by Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, would require a signature verification process for early ballots, notification of rejected ones within a month after an election and a process for correcting errors. Punishment for committing mail-in voter fraud in some cases could carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Hancock and bill supporters have said the bill would protect the most vulnerable voters: seniors and people with disabilities.

RELATED: Must-pass sunset bills one step from Gov. Abbott’s desk

The House approved changes to the bill that would prohibit electronic signatures on mail-in ballot applications and repeal House Bill 658 — passed during the regular session earlier this year — which gives voting priority to people with mobility issues and makes it easier for people in residential care facilities to vote by bringing ballots and an election official to their location — if at least five voters living there request a ballot. Abbott signed the bill into law in June, setting it to take effect on Sept. 1.

House Democrats argued Wednesday that SB 5 focuses more on penalties than solutions to fraud, and that a special session isn’t enough time to draft sound legislation. Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, called SB 5 “sloppy” and argued for a more robust conversation before moving forward on voter fraud legislation.

The bill next goes to the Senate, which can approve it as amended, or assign members to hash out differences with House members, before sending it to Abbott’s desk.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Jacksonville officer in critical condition after shooting 
Jacksonville officer in critical condition after shooting 

One Florida officer is in critical condition and another is stable after being shot Friday, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said. The officers were responding to an attempted suicide call, Sheriff’s Office Director Mike Bruno said. The suspect was shot by police and later died, deputies said. The injured officers were taken to UF Health...
Central Florida police officer shot and killed, another gravely wounded
Central Florida police officer shot and killed, another gravely wounded

One central Florida police officer was shot and killed Friday night and one is in grave condition, Kissimmee Police Chief Jeffrey O’Dell said. O’Dell said that Officer Matthew Baxter was killed and Sgt. Sam Howard was shot and is in grave condition. The uniformed officers were responding to a call at 9:30 p.m. in Kissimmee. It appears that...
Georgetown’s new bus service launches Monday
Georgetown’s new bus service launches Monday

Hop on board. Georgetown’s new bus service with four fixed routes across the city starts at 7 a.m. Monday. The 16-passenger buses, operated by the Capital Area Rural Transportation System, are free for the first two weeks. They will run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. There is no bus service...
After Charlottesville, Austin’s Confederate monuments get a second look
After Charlottesville, Austin’s Confederate monuments get a second look

After a rally by white supremacists fighting removal of a Confederate monument turned deadly in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend, the response in Austin came swiftly. Austin City Council members immediately began paperwork to rename Robert E. Lee Road, near Zilker Park, and Jeff Davis Avenue, near Allandale. At the Capitol, state Rep. Eric Johnson...
Where to watch the solar eclipse in Central Texas

Want to get in on the solar eclipse frenzy? If you haven’t made your Eclipse Day plans yet, there are tons of events in the Central Texas area for family-friendly, astronomical fun. Here is a collection of places to go and things to do on Monday, Aug. 21: AUSTIN Balcones Park Viewing Party, 1:10 p.m., 12017 Amherst Drive, Austin: Join neighbors...
More Stories