House Elections Committee in Gear. Check it out.

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Monday is a big day in the Texas Elections Committee in the Texas House. Five bills from the Senate have been scheduled for a hearing and all have merit. Below is a review of the bills on the calendar for Monday. This is part one of a two-part series, part two will cover the remaining bills that need to be heard in committee.

SB 902 – Transparent Election Results

In order for election watchdogs to review and affirm fair and accurate administration of Texas elections, access to records is needed. Unfortunately, accessing these records often times is cost prohibitive.

What’s truly frustrating is that costs from county to county vary drastically, even counties with population parody.

SB 902 by Sen. Hughes standardizes the public availability of election records, including setting an affordable cost for accessing records. Some counties, are already far ahead of others in providing such transparency and they deserve credit. This bill will bring laggards inline (heads up Chris).

SB 1568 – Help Fraud Prosecutions

As is the case across the country, Texas lawmakers are coming to terms with the reality of voter fraud and confronting it with needed prosecutorial changes to the Election Code.

SB 1568 by Sen. Fallon would give the Texas attorney general the option to file a civil suit against persons engaged in organized election fraud and the ability to recover civil penalties. That penalty would be $1,000 per offense, money that will come in handy as more voter fraud allegations are investigated and prosecuted.

SB 1638 – Curb by Mail Fraud              

Mail in ballot fraud can be discovered but it’s difficult and oftentimes goes unnoticed. SB 1638 by Sen. Zaffarini does three things to help identify potential fraud.

First, the bill calls for “vote tabulation reports to include separate tallies for mail-in ballots and in-person early voting.” Irregularities in results is a good indicator of potential fraud but often times this goes unnoticed when mail-in and in-person are slammed together in result tabulations.

Second, the bill authorizes signature verification committees to compare signatures from envelopes and applications submitted during the same election to reveal potential misconduct. Currently, limitations on examination are hamstringing ballot review boards.

Finally, the bill calls for “mail-in ballot and in-person early voting records to be stored separately.”

SB 966 – Predictable Polling Places

Currently, the mobility of polling places is unpredictable and too lightly regulated which can cause confusion and raise the cost of conducting elections. SB 966 by Sen. Bettencourt authorizes the location of a movable temporary polling place, in counties with populations of 100,000; or more, to “be changed only once during the early voting period and only after at least half of the early voting period has concluded.”

SB 751 – Deter Deepfakes

With the increase in artificial intelligence capability comes greater need to deter what could be highly disruptive to elections, false representation by deepfake technology. If you haven’t already seen the technology here’s a short video.

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SB 751 by Sen. Hughes creates a criminal offense for “fabricating a deceptive video with intent to influence the outcome of an election.”

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