By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square
State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, has filed seven election integrity bills in the Texas Senate. There are five co-sponsors on nearly all of the bills, including Sens. Birdwell, Creighton, Kolkhorst, Hall, and Schwertner.
“The November 2020 election demonstrated the lack of transparency and lack of integrity within the election process,” Bettencourt said in a statement. “The integrity of the voter roll is paramount to the entire electoral process and we must restore confidence in the voter roll for future elections for all Texans.”
While the Texas Secretary of State has already begun removing ineligible voters from the voter rolls by reviewing motor vehicle data from the Department of Public Safety, three of the seven proposed bills aim to help ensure an accurate voter roll, Bettencourt said.
SB 1111 requires voters to provide documentation that they live at the address where they are registered, in an effort to eliminate the use of private P.O. boxes when registering.
Two bills authorize the Secretary of State’s Office to pursue additional security measures. SB 1113 allows the SOS to withhold Chapter 19 funds if the voter registrar or elections administrator fails to remove voters who should not be registered in a timely fashion.
SB 1114 authorizes the SOS to require voter registrars to cross-reference voter rolls and motor vehicle records to identify drivers who indicate they are not citizens, and if they are registered to vote to be removed from the voter rolls.
The other four bills address officials’ failure to enforce existing Election Code law.
“The COVID-19 pandemic on top of the November 2020 election has revealed election code violations across Texas including too many places with election officials that have been non-compliant with the one or more of the requirements of the Texas Election Code,” Bettencourt added. “These ‘Integrity Seven’ bills will start a needed discussion to create uniformity to make sure the problems we faced in 2020 will not happen again.”
SB 1110 requires every Administrative Judge in all 11 districts in Texas to appoint judges to be able to hear issues raised by either a candidate or a political party within three hours of the request prior to Election Day and within one hour on Election Day. This bill will allow for faster resolution of election issues.
SB 1112 prohibits local election officials from suspending the requirement of the Early Voting Ballot Board to verify that the signature on the mail ballot application and the signature on the mail ballot are from the same voter.
SB 1115 requires uniformity in early voting hours and days for all counties in Texas.
SB 1116 requires transparency for cities, counties, and ISDs on their websites. These entities would be required to place on their websites, with no more than two clicks from the homepage, their election results.
Sen. Bryan Hughes, the State Affairs Committee chairman, is crafting omnibus legislation covering a wide range of issues in the Texas Election Code.
Bettencourt, who chairs the Senate Committee on Local Government, plans to file additional legislation in the coming days on a wide range of issues.
These bills, Gov. Greg Abbott said, “will take steps to ensure that every eligible voter gets to vote and every ineligible voter is denied the ability to engage in voter fraud. Texas will have secure elections.”