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Texas House Pursues Crackdown On Mail-In Ballot Fraud

The legislation would raise several forms of mail-in ballot fraud from misdemeanors to felonies, in order to encourage prosecution. The Senate passed its own bill earlier this week.


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Texas State Capitol in Austin.

Voter fraud and how to crack down on it was at the center of debate today at the State Capitol. House lawmakers want tougher penalties for people who fill out fraudulent mail-in ballots. The Senate passed similar legislation on a near party-line vote earlier this week.

The Texas Election Code, or TEC, currently treats several forms of mail-in ballot fraud as misdemeanors. The House is now weighing several bills that would raise the crimes to felonies.

Alan Vera, chair of the Harris County Republican Party's Ballot Security Committee, testified in favor of the legislation before the House Elections Committee. "We can't persuade any county district attorney to prosecute most violations of TEC today," said Vera, "because most violations today are misdemeanors, somehow below the threshold of interest of local DAs whose calendars are backlogged with felonies."

Glen Maxey, legislative affairs director for the Texas Democratic Party, testified Democrats are just as concerned about mail-in ballot fraud as Republicans. But he doesn't think toughening penalties alone will solve the problem.

"I'm afraid that [if] we enhance these penalties to the same as rape and murder, what happens is the DAs still are going to prioritize rape and murder over this," said Maxey.

The legislation largely aims at cracking down on so-called ballot harvesting, where campaign workers fill out voters' ballots for them. Opponents argue the measures are worded too vaguely and are open to abuse.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media's coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media's business reporter, covering the oil...

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