Three different Texas Senate committees met to hear public testimony on a number of issues Sunday including union payments, annexation, and voter fraud.
Polling problems have become one of the topics Gov. Greg Abbott and other state leaders are tackling during this special session.
“The mail ballot voting is a prime target for illegal voting and election fraud,” Texas Sen. Kelly Hancock said.
Hancock authored SB5, which outlined voter fraud concerns for the State Affairs Committee before public testimony began.
“The right of every Texas voter to count his or her ballot must be protected,” Hancock said.
“Often the victims of mail in ballot fraud are the most vulnerable members of our communities.”
The bill, which was approved by the committee with a 9-0 vote would increase criminal penalties to a state jail felony punishable by prison time.
Opponents of the bill worry that certain voters would choose not to head to the polls due to confusion.
“We believe that SB5 would result in the elderly or those with disabilities fearing they might intentionally do something wrong that could lead to imprisonment or a fine or could choose not to vote at all,” Cinde Weatherby, League of Women Voters of Texas Voting Rights/Election Issues Chair said.
“From people assisting voters at a polling place, taking over for the voter and casting the ballot without any direction from the voter, to mail ballot harvesting and the falsification of mail ballot signatures, these violations of Texas election code are real. They do real damage,” Harris Co. GOP Ballot Security Committee Chair Alan Vera said.
“Are there civil penalties, are there administrative penalties, are there alternatives to turning to our already filled prisons and jails to try to make sure people don’t try to ruin the integrity of our voting?” ACLU of Texas Senior Policy Strategist Matt Simpson said.
“We support increased scrutiny and security in balloting by mail. We support all means of protecting the integrity of our elections,” Texas Republican Party Chairman James Dickey said.
SB5 now moves to the full senate for a second reading.
The Texas Senate will reconvene Monday morning.