Governor Abbott Wants to Penalize Illegal Texas Voters More After SB 1 was Just Signed

Tom Handy

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2016 Presidential ElectionTexas Tribune

In Austin, Texas Senate Bill 1 recently made illegal voting a misdemeanor but Governor Greg Abbott wants to increase the penalty. On Thursday, Governor Abbott called Texas lawmakers to increase the penalty for illegal voters. This was about a month after recently lowering the penalty.

In December, a Class A misdemeanor was scheduled to go into effect. The crime changed from a second-degree felony to a misdemeanor.

A second-degree felony in Texas is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. For a person charged under a Class A misdemeanor, they could see up to a year in jail but they can get out of this by paying a fine.

The State of Texas has made tremendous progress in upholding the integrity of our elections,” he said in a statement. “By increasing penalties for illegal voting, we will send an even clearer message that voter fraud will not be tolerated in Texas.”

Governor Abbott feels the punishment can be changed while the lawmakers are in session.

House Speaker Dade Phelan disagreed with the governor's choice in a tweet Thursday evening, asserting that now "is not the time to re-litigate."

The move by Governor Abbott received praise from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Patrick presides over the state Senate and said on Twitter that the Senate will pass a bill with that aim next week.

Governor Abbott was unaware of the change that the legislatures lowered the criminal penalties. In a tweet, Patrick added that the House amended the penalties.

The law lowered the crime at the "last minute" and that the change "went under the radar until" Governor Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Patrick "found it & agreed that it must be corrected."

Senate Bill 1 caused a month-long fight between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats ended up leaving and flying to Washington, DC to break quorum.

Illegal voting is not very common in Texas but has received more scrutiny in recent years.

In the 2016 presidential election, a woman by the name of Crystal Mason. She voted and found out she was not allowed to vote in Tarrant County. Mason was convicted to serve a five-year prison term that she is currently appealing. Mason was on a federal supervised release and cast her ballot in the provisional election. A person who is on federal supervised release has served their full time in federal prison. No one had told her she was not allowed to vote.

How do you feel about Senate Bill 1?

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