UPDATED June 1 with FINAL bill-tracking status reports.
As deadlines approach for Texas lawmakers to move bills through the legislative process, Texans are wondering if Republicans will push priority election reforms through before the clock runs out.
Texas Scorecard is tracking the status of GOP-priority election bills and will update these lists throughout the remainder of the legislative session:
Election integrity is a top legislative priority of the Texas GOP and the only one also declared an emergency item by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott back in February. Abbott said in March he was ready to sign “robust” election reform bills sent to his desk.
Democrats and their corporate allies are now demagoguing the reforms, mischaracterizing election integrity as “voter suppression” and “bad for business,” but they are powerless to block the legislation.
With majorities in both chambers, Republicans control the process.
“Our biggest hurdles at this point in the session are the games played with the clock,” said Jill Glover in the April 9 legislative priorities report from the Republican Party of Texas:
When leadership does not want a bill passed, it is very easy to arrange for them to be ‘slow-walked,’ and then die because time ran out. … Every senator and representative is aware of this game and is responsible should they play it.
The clock is ticking for the Republican-controlled Legislature to get priority election reform bills to the governor’s desk before the regular session ends on May 31.
While interest in securing the vote intensified during 2020 as voting rules were loosened without legislative oversight, this year’s election reform priorities are 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.
GOP lawmakers have also been guided by grassroots activists in the Republican Party of Texas, who chose election integrity as their top legislative priority for 2021 during their convention last summer.
The RPT’s Legislative Priorities Committee specified two policy goals: set felony penalties for election fraud crimes and verify only citizens are registering and voting in Texas elections.
An ad hoc RPT committee revived from last session set additional election integrity goals for 2021: improve mail-ballot security and enforce voter roll maintenance.
Some new issues did emerge in 2020 that lawmakers are addressing: local election officials using COVID as an excuse to make up their own voting rules, outside money influencing how elections are administered, and the renewed threat of a federal takeover of state elections.
The Legislature’s two top-priority election integrity bills—House Bill 6 and Senate Bill 7—have significant differences, but both are comprehensive “omnibus” bills containing a number of the reforms sought by advocates.
Republicans have also filed dozens of individual bills promoting these priorities.
Details about specific bills, along with resources to help citizens participate in the legislative process, are available at Texas Legislature Online.