This session lawmakers had an opportunity to substantially move the ball on the issue of election integrity. Unfortunately, this did not happen and our analysis suggests the fault for this inaction rests largely with the House.
The Senate moved major bills during the session and with time to spare. Bills removing non-citizens from voter rolls, providing verifiable paper ballot backups, increasing the ability of law enforcement to pursue fraud and measures aimed at curbing in person manipulation of voters passed the Senate. The House is where these bills went to die.
In fact, cutting against the narrative that House leadership allowed bills from across the political spectrum to be heard in committee and receive floor votes, all meaningful election integrity bills were effectively blocked from public debate by all members of the House. Bills that got close to the floor were procedurally bull guarded, redirected to a conference committee where they were either gutted of needed reforms or killed.
During the session, after key reforms were procedurally nixed in the House after missing deadlines and lesser bills were similar being killed we wrote, it’s not acceptable for bills crucial to accurate administration of elections to languish. Action in governing is transparency, and this session has been short on this on the topic of election integrity.
There were hundreds of bills filed related to election law and Direct Action Texas tracked all of them. Our review of the session will detail the most impactful of these measures and some of the antics surrounding their voyage through the legislative process.
While we tracked hundreds of bills, 47 pieces of priority legislation were identified from the House and the Senate. Of these bills, 4.7% were passed out of both bodies and have become law or are waiting to be signed by the governor.
Though the movement on election integrity was paltry, there was movement in the process, a good benchmark of interest in the issue overall and something on which to build during the interim and next legislative session. Bad bills were universally stymied in the Senate and the few that were oddly prioritized by Chairman Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth) died before becoming law.
The following review is broken into three sections. Major bills are covered first with a brief play by play followed by groupings of House and Senate bills respectively. With the exception of the first section, bill numbering dictates the order in which bills are presented.
SB 9 – Arguably the most important and comprehensive election integrity bill of the session was SB 9. Passed by the Senate but killed by the House, SB 9 was an omnibus election bill authored by Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) that would have accomplished several things including: