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Illegal Voting Felony Bill Passes Senate

Government

Multiple I Voted stickers with USA flag on blue jacket illustrating potential voter fraud | Image by Steve Heap/Shutterstock

A bill that would make illegal voting a felony offense in Texas once again was passed by the Senate on March 14 — the first in the 88th Legislature.

Filed by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), the proposal would elevate the penalty for illegally voting back to a felony after legislation in 2021 reduced it to a misdemeanor, as reported by The Dallas Express.

Additionally, the bill would clarify that people who illegally vote can be found guilty as long as they know of the “circumstance” making them ineligible.

Following the vote, Sen. Hughes tweeted the news, explaining, “Today the Senate passed my first bill of the session.”

“Senate Bill 2 restores the felony penalty for illegal voting,” he continued. “In Texas, we’re making it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

Sen. Hughes further told The Dallas Express, “Texas takes election security seriously, and we believe the punishment should fit the crime.”

“This common sense measure is a priority for the people of Texas,” he continued. “Multiple members of the House have filed similar bills, and we’re looking forward to getting this to the Governor’s desk.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick heralded the legislation in a statement received by The Dallas Express.

“Maintaining the integrity of Texas’ elections has been a top priority of mine since I was elected to the Texas Senate and throughout my tenure as Lt. Governor,” Patrick said.

“For years, I have been explicit in saying that I want to make it easier for Texans to vote and harder to cheat,” he claimed. “Voters demand secure elections.”

“Citizens must have trust in the outcome of every election in our state. People who wish to subvert our elections must know that committing voter fraud comes with a steep penalty; a misdemeanor is simply too weak,” Patrick continued. “Senate Bill 2 deters these bad actors and will give Texans peace of mind that election security is dramatically improved.”

Patrick concluded by noting, “I salute Sen. Hughes and the Texas Senate Republicans who have worked diligently to upgrade illegal voting back to a felony, which was Texas law for almost 50 years until the House reduced it to a misdemeanor last session.”

Opponents of the bill claim that the legislation would unfairly punish people who unintentionally violate Texas voting laws.

During the public hearing on the bill in the Senate Committee on State Affairs, election judge Alex Mead urged legislators not to “criminalize honest mistakes,” as reported by The Dallas Express.

“I think the better approach is that our law should not allow honest mistakes to be prosecuted so that that way we are making sure that, no matter what, we are treating everyone uniformly in terms of how we are prosecuting actual, intentional illegal voting,” Mead added.

Others reacted to the bill’s passages by claiming it sought to address a non-existent issue. Twitter user John Middleton called the bill “[a] solution without a problem,” while Meg Evans asked if Republicans were “[t]rying to disenfranchise more people?”

SB 2 will now head to the lower chamber where Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) has filed the companion bill.

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Arlene koeppen
Arlene koeppen
16 days ago

How does someone accidentally vote illegally?

Pap
Pap
Reply to  Arlene koeppen
16 days ago

When they accidentally get caught.

RockyTop
RockyTop
16 days ago

All preventative actions can be dismissed as ‘solutions without problems’. Avoiding the problem is the point.