Sen. Paul Bettencourt passes Five more Election Integrity Bills to the full Texas Senate!

Austin, TX – Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) passed five more of his Election Integrity bills out of the Senate Committee on State Affairs, Chaired by Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Tyler), on Thursday, March 30th, 2023. “Senate Bill 1039, which is the best voter audit bill in country, is all about what gets measured gets fixed!” said Senator Bettencourt.

Co-authored by Sen. Bryan Hughes, SB 1039 implements common-sense election audit procedures to identify and correct election irregularities like the thousands that were identified after the November 2022 election in Harris County. Hans von Spakovsky, Manger, Election Law Reform Initiative & Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, called SB 1039 “…an important development that will further enhance public confidence in the credibility of elections.”

During public testimony on SB 1911, which was also passed out of committee on Thursday, Harris County Election Judge, Kelley Flannery, told the committee through tears she was spit on by a voter who had to be turned away because their polling location didn’t have paper ballots. SB 1911 will increase the penalty for the intentional failure to deliver election supplies from a Class C to a Class A misdemeanor, increase the penalty for obstructing the distribution of election supplies for an election from a Class C misdemeanor to a state jail felony, and increase the penalty for revealing election results early from a Class A misdemeanor to a state jail felony. A report by KHOU 11 states that over 120 election polls in Harris County were supplied with an insufficient amount of paper ballots on Election Day, November 8, 2022.

“The four other election integrity bills increase criminal penalties for obvious problems that occurred during the botched elections in Harris County, from the EA refusing to supply paper ballots to polls and ordering the Signature Verification Committee to NOT verify signatures on mail-in ballots,” added Sen. Bettencourt.

The three other Election Integrity bills by Senator Bettencourt headed to the full Senate include SB 1950, which makes it a Class A misdemeanor for a County Clerk, Elections Administrator, or early voting Clerk, for not verifying signatures on mail-in ballots, which occurred in the Harris County November 2022 election, when the Harris County EA instructed the Signature Verification Committee that they were not to verify the identification on the application to the voter records, because the EA staff had already done that comparison. Harris County has experienced numerous elections where the election records from the polling location were not accounted for until the day following the election day or perhaps even later. SB 1907 would address this by providing added oversight from the Secretary of State to the collection of precinct returns. Finally, to maintain clean voting rolls, SB 1938 would extend the ability of the Secretary of State to withhold funds if a Voter Registrar fails to timely perform a duty regarding the approval, change, or cancellation of a voter’s registration.