It was well past 3 a.m. on Friday when members of the Texas House finally headed home for the day. The grueling 17-hour session on the House Floor ended with Texas Republicans claiming victory on one of the Governor's emergency items: Election Integrity.
Thursday's marathon debate was set to have more than 100 amendments, predominantly brought by Democrats trying to gut the bill or weaken its ability to close loopholes. Through it all, the bill's sponsor state Rep. Briscoe Cain remained resolute and his Republican colleagues joined together to pass the bill to third reading.
The end result is the House's version of this session's benchmark Election Integrity bill that includes several key provisions, including:
Prohibits public officials from unauthorized altering or waiving of an election procedure or practice.
Ensures that voter registration is legitimate and accurate by requiring a list of deceased voters to be sent to the appropriate authority within 7 days of being created.
Requires elections to be conducted in a consistent manner throughout the entire state.
Makes certain that poll watchers are able to properly observe the activity or procedure for which they have jurisdiction and verifies that poll watchers will not disrupt the delivery of marked ballots.
Updates the oath of assistance to protect voters who are unable to write or see due to a physical disability from being improperly swayed by an election assistant, and provides that falsifying the oath of assistance amounts to perjury.
Provides additional protection to voting by mail by adding a section for voting assistants to attest that they do not receive compensation in return for assisting a voter with their ballot.
Prevents election fraud by prohibiting voting in more than one state, the alteration of a ballot, and vote trafficking.
Prohibits local governments from spending tax dollars to solicit or distribute applications to vote by mail.
Prioritizes cases involving election integrity and ensures these fraud cases are free from potential judicial bias by randomly assigning the cases to a court.
Prohibits poll watchers from harassing voters and prevents poll watchers from being removed without cause.
SB 7 was finally passed out of the House on Friday (the normal session, not the 3 a.m. marathon) and now heads to the Texas Senate for concurrence or to be referred to a conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate proposals.
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