Texas lawmakers have a vital opportunity this legislative session—and the future of the Lone Star State’s election system hangs in the balance.

The newly assigned Texas House Elections Committee is primed to take on the difficult challenge of overhauling Texas’ vulnerable elections system, and if they do, they’ll deliver the crowning achievement of the 86th Legislature.

Before the session even started, there was escalating interest in finally protecting Texans’ voting security and citizens’ confidence in the system. Numerous election integrity issues have come to light since the last state legislative session, putting pressure on new legislators to find solutions.

When Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced committee assignments last week, Texans got their first glimpse at what the Legislature may be able to accomplish.

Republican State Rep. Stephanie Klick (Fort Worth) was given the nod to chair the committee, while Democrat State Rep. Philip Cortez (San Antonio) will serve as the committee’s Vice Chairman.

The other seven members of the committee are Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park), Celia Israel (D-Austin), Valoree Swanson (R-Spring), John Bucy III (D-Austin), Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville), and the not-yet-elected Representative of House District 79, where Democrat State Rep. Joe Pickett resigned ahead of the session due to a health issue.

The committee’s members recognize the seriousness of the problem they’re preparing to tackle, but are ready to finally solve it.

“We must work to end voter fraud and the casting of illegal votes, which undermine the integrity of our Constitution and the legitimacy of our elected government,” said freshman State Representative Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville), a member of the committee.

State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) told Texas Scorecard he looked forward to serving on the committee and protecting Texans’ confidence in our elections.

“My number one priority as a member of this committee is to ensure that we end the fraud plaguing our elections, increase participation for legal voters by standardizing the election dates, and aggressively investigate and prosecute both those who illegally vote and those who enable illegal voting,” said Cain.

Recent revelations have shown just how many threats Texas’ vulnerable election system faces.

Attorney General Ken Paxton recently released findings that his office and the Texas Department of Safety discovered 95,000 individuals identified in the Texas Department of Public Safety database as non-U.S. citizens have registered to vote in Texas.

Of those 95,000, 58,000 had participated in one or more elections.

“Nothing is more vital to preserving our Constitution than the integrity of our voting process,” said Paxton, “and my office will do everything within its abilities to solidify trust in every election in the state of Texas.”

With continued exposure of the problem’s pervasiveness and promising opportunity for the Elections Committee, lawmakers must act quickly and effectively this session to ensure our elections are finally fair and secure.

Destin Sensky

Destin Sensky serves as a Capitol Correspondent for Texas Scorecard covering the Texas Legislature, working to bring Texans the honest and accurate coverage they need to hold their elected officials in Austin accountable.