Fighting for Transparency & Fiscal Responsibility in Local Government

DAT Calls on Klick to Concur with HB 2909

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While the fight for more comprehensively secure elections is currently on hold, following the demise of Senate Bill 9 in the Texas House, there are other measures that Texans should be pushing for lawmakers to advance in the waning days of the 2019 session.

HB 2909, by Representatives Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) and Mike Lang (R-Granbury) was passed by the Senate yesterday where it is being carried by a bipartisan cohort including Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) and Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville).

After being amended, HB 2909 is heading back to the House.

Direct Action Texas is calling on Chairman Klick and members of the House to pass the bill as-is, concurring with amendments, so that the bill can be sent to the Governor and signed into law.

The bill, as written and amended, is an omnibus bill dealing with the nuts and bolts of election administration. Committee hearings in both chambers, like the bill’s authorship, resulted in a mix of support from election groups on both the right and left.

As written, HB 2909 will add a crucial component to Texas elections, a backup regime that can be used to verify election results.

This session has been an embarrassment for elected officials in the House who claim to be strong advocates and proponents of well administered and upright elections. Passage of HB 2909 would take steps towards improving elections in Texas.

Call on Chairman Klick to move the bill out of the House as amended by the Senate. Her phone number is (512) 463-0599.

SB9 Hearing Observations

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Yesterday, the Texas House Elections Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 9 (SB9), an election integrity and administration bill that clarifies and strengthens Texas Election Code.

The hearing was pure progressive theater lead off by Williamson County Election Administrator Chris Davis at 8:00 AM on Wednesday and ending at nearly 1:00 AM on Thursday morning. Minus time spent on the House floor, the hearing was still lengthy.

That time was spent mostly on false narratives meant to deter ensuring accurate elections.

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Last Chance for Election Integrity!

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The 86th Texas Legislature has gone from over 400 election bills to just one last chance for true reform and that bill, Senate Bill 9 by Hughes, is in danger. Some portions of the bill have been strengthened by a committee substitute, but other crucial portions of the bill have been removed. SB 9 needs your help and your testimony on Wednesday, May 15th at 8:00 am. Below is your brief guide to the bill.

What’s Still Included:

SB 9 is an omnibus bill, covering numerous aspects of the Election Code. It includes increased penalties for election fraud as well as civil penalties for organized election fraud. This allows the Office of the Attorney General to increase its ability to go after the bigger fish in harvesting operations. It allows the closer tracking of potential harvesters by requiring a form to be filled out by individuals assisting voters. SB 9 also cracks down on potential illegal activity involving curbside voting.

The bill has several sections on cleaning up the processes involved in voting. It clearly defines the procedures for opening and closing the polls, ensuring accountability. It limits electronic devices around the central counting procedures as well as cleaning up the language concerning the signature verification committees and watchers. Countywide polling is also addressed by SB 9, limiting the reduction of polling locations and governing their placement.

In the event that the results of an election are in doubt, SB 9 provides solutions that are clearer than the present code. It defines the parameters of election contests, sets requirements for automatic recounts, and establishes risk-limiting audit procedures.

In addressing the voter rolls, it places restrictions on prefilled voter registration cards and eliminates barriers for the interstate cross check systems.

What’s Missing:

The committee substitute removed language that would address a growing issue involving mail-in ballots, false disability claims. Harvesters are marking voters who wouldn’t otherwise qualify to vote by mail as disabled. SB 9 would have added language to the application, clearly defining what disability means in the context of voting. It would have required something similar for in-person voting, but that provision was removed as well. Assistants would have been required to note the type of assistance he or she provided and why the assistance was needed. 

The most important piece of SB 9 that was eliminated was paper ballot backups. Direct Action Texas has been broadcasting the need for paper ballot backups since before this session began. No piece of this legislation is more important than paper backups. With the current electronic systems, there is no way to truly ensure the integrity of an election. In a recount, there is nothing to recount. There is no actual record of votes.

We must have paper. However, we need more than just paper. We need hybrid systems. Hybrids offer an electronic count that must match the number of paper ballots. Those two counts must then match the number of voters checked in. Each paper ballot must have a serial number, preventing ballot box stuffing. Without all of these elements working together the door is wide open for fraud.

Paper ballot backups passed in the Senate. They are not lost yet in the House. A Representative can take a stand for election integrity and add them back in as a floor amendment. They can also be restored in Conference Committee. However it happens, this crucial portion of the legislation must return!

If you plan to testify in Austin on Wednesday, please email us at info@directactiontx.com for more details.

SB 9 Fake News Debunked

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Senate Bill 9 by Senator Bryan Hughes does not restrict anyone’s ability to take voters to a polling location to vote inside that location. Misinformation has been spreading about this bill, claiming it is hostile to transporting voters to the polls. That is simply not the case.

The way the bill is written, it could be misinterpreted if it is not read carefully. However, the intent is made clear when the bill references “Section 64.009” of the Election Code. This section addresses voters unable to enter the polling place. These are the voters who are “physically unable to enter the polling place without personal assistance or likelihood of injuring the voter’s health” and therefore eligible to vote “curbside”. This section does not apply to anyone who transports voters who vote inside the polling place.

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URGENT: Calls needed for election integrity

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With only 19 days left in the legislative session, four Senate bills needed to ensure election integrity await a hearing in the House. These bills need your urgent support.

All of the bills (listed below) have passed the Senate but need to be set for a hearing in the House. House Elections Committee Chairwoman Klick, despite having the power to call all of these bills for multiple weeks, has failed to take action. The clock is running out on these crucial reforms.

Please call Chairwoman Klick and ask her to add SB 9, SB 901, and SB 903 by Senator Hughes and SB 205 by Perry to her hearing list for May 13th. Please remember to always be polite when calling.

If you have time, call other members of the Elections Committee and implore them to call on Chairwoman Klick to act immediately. Contact information is listed below.

Waiting for Committee Hearing in House:

SB 9 by Hughes – Relating to election integrity; increasing criminal penalties; creating a criminal offense; creating civil penalties. This is an omnibus bill with provisions curbing all aspects of election fraud. It doesn’t fix everything, which is why we need additional bills, but it is a huge step in the right direction.

SB 205 by Perry – Relating to the use of information from the lists of noncitizens excused or disqualified from jury service. This bill addresses non-citizens who self-identify as such when they are called to serve on jury duty. Not only are they removed from the rolls, but their names are given to the Office of the Attorney General to potentially prosecute if they have been voting illegally.
SB 901 by Hughes – Relating to election integrity; increasing a criminal penalty. This bill focuses mainly on mail-in ballot fraud. It cleans up the language, raises penalties, and requires that ballots cast by mail are counted separately.

SB 903 by Hughes – Relating to the integrity of elections in this state; imposing a civil penalty; increasing a criminal penalty. This bill addresses removing felons from the voter rolls tightens the requirements for verifying citizenship requires data sharing with the Social Security Administration, hold voter registrars accountable with civil penalties, and requires the reporting of violations (people voting illegally) to the Office of the Attorney General.

House Elections Committee Chairwoman Stephanie Klick
Capitol Office: (512) 463-0599

Representative Dustin Burrows
Capitol Office: (512) 463-0542

Representative Briscoe Cain
Capitol Office: (512) 463-0733

Representative Mayes Middleton
Capitol Office: (512) 463-0502

Representative Valoree Swanson
Capitol Office: (512) 463-0572

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