Senator Bettencourt passes Texas Election Marshal bill to restore public trust in elections!

Austin, TX – Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) passed Senate Bill 220 out of the Texas Senate on Wednesday, April 19, 2023. SB 220 addresses the thousands of voter irregularities that occurred in the 2022 election by allowing the Texas Secretary of State to appoint Election Marshals from the Department of Public Safety. These Election Marshals can be dispatched to investigate potential election code violations as they occur during the November Uniform elections and primaries.

“SB 220 was filed in 2021 in response to voter irregularities in Harris County. After multiple Election Fiascos in 2022 caused by the Election Administrators in Harris County, Election Marshals would have prevented these issues from occurring by reminding election officials of the election code!” Stated Senator Bettencourt. “Bottom line is voters should have absolute confidence in the Election Process, and not go from poll to poll looking for those that have ballot paper for voters to vote on.” He added.

Under SB 220, 11 regional administrative appointed judges will be able to hear cases within three hours of reporting during early voting and within one hour during election day. The 11 regional judges will also appoint a sufficient number of visiting judges to serve as emergency election review judges to preside in actions under this legislation and each emergency judge shall receive training at least once a year as specified by the Secretary of State.

Furthermore, the Election Marshals created by SB 220 will help prevent or quickly resolve occurring voting violations. For example, thousands of voter irregularities occurred during the 2022 elections in Harris County. These include the former Harris County Elections Administrator “finding” 10,000 votes after polls closed, the current Harris County Elections Administrator failing to deliver enough paper ballots to over 120 polling locations, failing to report election results no later than 24 hours after election polls, and telling the Harris County Signature Verification Committee not to compare and verify mail-in ballot signatures. These are all examples of problems to be fixed.

“Having law enforcement who are trained in the election code and can investigate potential voting violations in real-time is essential in restoring the public’s trust in elections. When people see voter irregularities occurring during elections and have no recourse for them to be reported, that’s a real threat to democracy.” Stated Senator Bettencourt.

SB 220 is now in the Texas House where it needs to be passed before being signed by Governor Abbott into law. Rep. Valoree Swanson (R-Spring) is carrying the companion in the House, HB 549. SB 220 was previously filed as SB 1589 during the 87th Legislative Session and was passed out of the Senate Committee on State Affairs. Senator Bettencourt has passed 11 election reform and voter integrity bills so far out of the Texas Senate and additional bills will be passed in April.