Election integrity advocates chalked up a handful of wins during the state’s regular legislative session.
Now, with an unknown number of special sessions yet to come, more progress is possible this year—if Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and grassroots conservatives can convince Gov. Greg Abbott to address their priorities that died in the Texas House.
After weeks of foot-dragging in the Republican-controlled House, lawmakers finally passed some reforms on the Texas GOP’s list of priorities for protecting elections and sent them to Abbott:
- Restoring felony penalties for illegal voting—also a priority of Patrick’s, but the House bill passed did not include a Senate provision clarifying that ignorance of the law is not a defense for illegal voting.
- Allowing public access to election records—added to a broader public information bill.
- Withdrawing Texas from the ERIC interstate voter registration crosscheck program.
- Amending procedures for processing mail-in ballots—including requiring voters’ signatures to be verified.
More Priorities Possible
At the end of the regular session, Patrick urged Abbott to include several election-related priorities in a special session call:
- Ending countywide polling places
- Creating a process for citizens to initiate election audits
- Ensuring timely vote counts
- Ensuring sufficient ballots at the polls
Patrick finished his list with “additional election security bills,” which could include any number of other Texas GOP priorities that passed the Senate but died in the House:
- Banning ranked-choice voting
- Creating a civil penalty for officials who illegally alter election rules
- Allowing election crimes to be prosecuted in adjoining counties
- Requiring Texas voters to be U.S. citizens—a proposal that 54 House Democrats blocked by voting “present”
Only specific items named by the governor can be considered during a special session.
Abbott indicated that “several special sessions” will be required to pass all of his priorities.