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.

Media outlets, including Evan Smith’s, have incorrectly reported that voters who unknowingly vote illegally are prosecutable. For those watching the bill layout, this was countered by Chairman Stephanie Klick. More on knowing versus unknowing later.

One of the more interesting storylines that’s developed during SB9’s trip through the legislative process has been that of mandating paper ballot backups. Our Director of Election Integrity Christine Welborn recently wrote, “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.”

Christine is right. Alan Vera and Representative Valoree Swanson are wrong.

During yesterday’s hearing, Rep. Swanson had a contrived exchange with Mr. Vera, an advocate for election hardware supplier Hart Intercivic, regarding electronic voting systems and paper ballot backups. Both irrationally oppose paper ballot backups.

Swanson and her apparent handler have been laboring to turn a good governance provision into a vendor provision. It was inaccurately stated by Swanson during the hearing that only one vendor in the state would be qualified to administer elections if paper ballot backups are mandated.

Swanson and Vera’s talking points will be rebuffed in their entirety in a fact check. Vera’s body language while lobbying the panel bore the telltale signs of dishonesty.

Also, on display was overwrought hyperbole suggesting that voting will become more complicated and “scary” as a result of SB 9. These talking points can be summarily ignored by members of the Texas House as they consider this bill.

Testimony in opposition to SB9 highlighted cases of voter fraud that were prosecuted and resulted in convictions. In both cases that were highlighted, the voter was proven to have knowingly voted illegally.

In the first, Rosa Maria Ortega was convicted of fraud and sentenced to jail. Ortega knew she was not a citizen, disclosing while applying for her driver’s license that she was not a citizen only to check she was a citizen while registering to vote. She was convicted by a jury. Suggesting this isn’t voter fraud is asinine.

The same goes for Crystal Mason. Federal prosecutors charged and secured a conviction against Mason when she voted while on supervised release from prison. Mason, originally convicted of tax fraud, was on probation when she signed a provisional ballot stating she was not on probation.

Chairman Klick delayed a vote of SB9 by the committee to Thursday morning. More to follow.

[See downloaded list of Hart Intercivic employee emails]

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