AUSTIN, TX. - The Texas Legislature is considering numerous bills to restrict or expand voter access in the state. These bills come amid a national conversation about election security and voter fraud, with Republicans pushing for stricter measures while Democrats are advocating for easier access to the ballot box. However, despite claims of widespread fraud, such incidents are considered uncommon according to nearly all standards.
One Republican bill, for example, seeks to make illegal voting a felony instead of a misdemeanor, a move that the Texas ACLU believes will scare and intimidate voters at the polls. The organization's senior attorney, Matt Simpson, claims that these bills are "solutions in search of a problem" and that Texas has not had a history of election fraud. He also criticizes the focus on election security as a priority for only a tiny segment of Republican voters.
This focus on election security stems from the Republican party's response to the 2020 presidential election, which saw President Biden defeat former President Trump. Following the election, the GOP-controlled Texas Legislature passed a series of voting restrictions, including rules for mail-in voting, a ban on drive-through and 24-hour voting, and reductions in local initiatives aimed at increasing voter accessibility.
One Republican proposal seeks to establish a new law enforcement unit to prosecute election crimes, modeled after a similar unit in Florida. The Texas unit would be led by state "election marshals" and tasked with prosecuting election and voting crimes. Simpson, who has been monitoring the Capitol since 2009, argues that such a unit is unnecessary.
The Texas Secretary of State's office conducted a 359-page audit of the 2020 election, which looked at the most prominent Republican and Democratic counties. The audit found some "irregularities," but determined that most were due to the challenges of holding an election during a pandemic.
In short, while voter fraud is uncommon, the Texas Legislature still considers bills to restrict or expand voter access. Republicans are pushing for stricter measures, while Democrats are advocating for easier access to the ballot box. Regardless of political views, it is vital to understand the facts and history surrounding election security in the state.
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