While Texas election integrity advocates are disappointed the Republican-controlled Legislature failed to pass their top-priority comprehensive reform bill, lawmakers did manage to pass a handful of key election bills before the regular session ended Monday.
This year’s election reform priorities were much the same as in past sessions: clean up voter rolls, secure mail ballots, stop illegal voter assistance, make sure voting machines produce accurate results, and punish cheaters.
Republican Party of Texas delegates made election integrity their top legislative priority for the 2021 session, after lawmakers failed to pass their priority election reforms in 2019.
Election integrity was the only RPT priority given fast-track emergency status by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott back on February 1.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan also prioritized and publicly endorsed election integrity bills. Yet lawmakers in both chambers failed to consider election integrity (or any of the governor’s emergency items) until the legislative session was beyond the first 60 days.
The Senate passed five of its seven RPT-priority election integrity bills, all in April. Two made it through the House and to the governor’s desk.
The House passed four of its 16 RPT-priority bills, one in April and three more in May (including two Senate companions considered in lieu of House bills). Only one went to the governor.
A couple of other key bills not designated as priorities by the RPT also made it to the governor’s desk, as did at least one measure opposed by grassroots activists.
House Bill 574 by State Rep. Greg Bonnen (R–Friendswood) was the first RPT-priority election integrity bill to finally pass both chambers. Originally crafted to make all election fraud crimes felonies, the final version of the bill creates two new election fraud offenses—intentionally counting invalid votes and failing to count valid votes—and makes them
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