The bill would also introduce a variety of new criminal offenses for elections officials. It would make it easier to get elections overturned. And it would empower partisan poll watchers in a variety of ways.
Early voting hours and locations
The bill would ban certain kinds of early voting locations, reduce early voting hours in some counties, and ban early voting during a key “souls to the polls” time period. It would, however, add early voting hours in some counties.
Bans drive-through voting sites
Bans late-night voting and 24-hour voting
Bans Sunday morning hours
Bans ballot drop boxes
Adds early voting hours in some counties
The bill does add some extra mandatory early voting time.
The bill would mandate an extra hour of early voting on the last Sunday of the early voting period, requiring counties with 30,000 or more people to offer six hours that day rather than five hours. Current law mandates counties with 100,000 or more people do this.
Texas already had strict rules about mail-in voting. The bill would make them stricter.
Adds a new identification requirement for mail-in ballots
The bill would require voters applying for a mail-in ballot to provide a driver’s license number, Texas identification card number, or the last four digits of their Social Security number — or to submit a statement saying they have not been issued any of those numbers. They would have to provide this number or statement again when they submit their ballot. Texas currently uses a signature-match system rather than an ID card system to verify mail voters’ identities.
Bans officials from mailing unsolicited mail-in ballot applications
The bill would make it a felony punishable by between 180 days and two years in a state jail for a public official to send someone a mail-in ballot application the person did not request, or to pre-fill any part of any mail-in ballot application they are sending to someone.
Allows officials to look at old signatures
Under current law, local officials can compare a signature on a mail voter’s ballot envelope to “two or more” of the voter’s signatures on file with the county clerk or voter registrar from the past six years. Under the bill, the officials could compare the envelope signature to “any known signature” the clerk or registrar have on file, with no limit on how old the signature can be.
The bill does say that if the voter provides one of the required ID numbers and it matches their voter registration, their signature will be “rebuttably presumed” to be valid.
Voters with disabilities
The bill would create new requirements both for voters with disabilities and the people who help them by driving them to voting locations or aiding them in filling out their ballots.
Adds requirements for voters with disabilities
Current law says a Texan can get a mail-in ballot if they have a sickness or physical condition that “prevents” them from voting in person without a likelihood of needing assistance or injuring their health. The bill would toughen the “prevents” language with a requirement that the person’s health issue must make them “not capable of” voting in person without a likelihood of needing assistance or injuring their health — and further specifies a “lack of transportation” to the voting place isn’t enough.
Adds requirements for people helping voters with disabilities cast a ballot
Under the bill, the oath would be stricter: it would specify that it is being uttered under penalty of perjury, and it would not allow the assistant to answer the voter’s questions. In addition, the assistant would have to fill out a form stating their name and address, their relationship to the voter, and whether they were compensated by a candidate, campaign, or political committee.
Adds requirements for people driving voters with disabilities
The bill would not ban Texans from driving multiple non-relatives to go vote. But it would impose new requirements on certain drivers of non-relatives. Specifically, the requirements apply to people who drive three or more non-relatives who are physically unable to go inside the voting location and therefore need a ballot brought out to them at the curb or entrance.
The bill says that such drivers would have to fill out a form with their name, address, and general reason they are providing assistance. That form would have to be quickly delivered to the state secretary of state, who would be required to make it “available to the attorney general for inspection upon request.”
The bill contains multiple provisions that would give additional rights and powers to poll watchers — people appointed by a candidate or party to observe the election proceedings.
Adds a free movement requirement
The bill says poll watchers “may not be denied free movement where election activity is occurring,” other than being kept away from a voter preparing their ballot or being assisted. The bill specifies that the watchers must be allowed close enough “to see and hear” election officers’ activities, and it lays out how watchers can obtain a legal injunction if they believe they are being unlawfully obstructed.
Guarantees poll watchers can follow election materials
The bill would also add a new provision saying that poll watchers are allowed to observe “all election activities relating to closing the polling place,” including the sealing and transfer of memory cards and computer drives, and to “follow” the transfer of election materials as they are taken from the voting location to the regional tabulation center.
Adds criminal penalties for election officials who obstruct poll watchers
The bill would require a poll watcher to utter an oath affirming that they will not “disrupt the voting process or harass voters.”
Adds other criminal penalties for elections officials
The bill would make it a felony punishable by state jail time for an election officer to knowingly or intentionally fail to count lawfully cast votes, or to knowingly or intentionally fail to count votes that are invalid “or should otherwise not be counted.” The bill would also make it such a felony for an elections officer to knowingly or intentionally prevent an eligible voter from casting a legal ballot or cause a ballot to “not reflect the intent of the voter.”
Makes it easier to overturn elections
The bill would make it easier to overturn elections.
The bill also says that the court hearing an election challenge would not have to attempt to figure out whether the illegal votes actually changed the outcome of the race before declaring the election void — only to see “if the number of votes illegally cast in the election is equal to or greater than the number of votes necessary to change the outcome of an election.”
Forbids counties from making their own changes
The bill would forbid any public official from creating, changing, or suspending “any election standard, practice, or procedure mandated by law or rule” in a way not “expressly authorized” by the state election code.
Requires video surveillance
The bill would require counties with a population of 100,000 or more to conduct video surveillance of “all areas containing voted ballots,” including during the counting process, and to live-stream that video to the public. These requirements would be optional for smaller counties.
Creates a “vote harvesting services” felony
Requires newly convicted felons to be notified of voting prohibition
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