DeSantis Delivers Specifics, Does Abbott Follow?

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Last week Ron DeSantis outlined election integrity measures to further safeguard Florida’s elections from fraud and protect voters from disenfranchisement.

The three areas DeSantis is focused on are ballot integrity, transparency in the elections process, and transparency in reporting; within each of these broad headings, multiple policy items are housed.

Two of the three areas map well to the needed reforms identified by Direct Action Texas as we work to rebuild trust in Texas elections.

Let’s take each of DeSantis’ proposals in turn and decide if the Texas legislature and Governor Greg Abbott need to move similar measures in Texas.

Mail-in ballot drop boxes – Texas doesn’t and should not have mail-in ballot drop sites. Any attempts to institute them should be DOA this session, and Texas must reject the federal government’s efforts to force them on the states.

During the 2020 election, Texas narrowly avoided the abuse of mail-in ballot drop-offs after a poorly crafted executive order allowed bad actors administering elections, namely in Harris and Travis county, to collect and count mail-in ballots before early voting even began.

Returning voted ballots through the mail (as the mail-in name implies) should be the method of voting such ballots. Said another way, if you’re able to drive down to the county clerk’s office or in Florida to a dropbox, vote in person.

Mail-in balloting is the least secure method of voting. If we are serious about ensuring all citizens’ rights to vote and for everyone to have faith in the outcome, we should increase in-person participation, and lower/eliminate mail-in voting.

Ballot harvesting – Good work was done to combat harvesting in Texas during the 2017 special session with the passage of SB5. Still, there are additional reforms that could be implemented to limit harvesting further.

Suggested reforms include allowing civil cases to be brought against suspected vote harvesters and increasing the penalties for engaging in this illegal behavior.

Sending ballots – Texas doesn’t mass send mail-in ballots, nor should it. There are several bills by Democrats that seek to implement this practice, but they are and ought to be DOA.

Texas should do away with the annual application for a mail-in ballot as it increases the likelihood of harvesting between elections, especially in the case of special elections.

Florida has come a long way since the days of hanging chads and Broward County shenanigans that dogged the state and made it a joke.

Signature match – While Texas does have a signature match requirement, our state should be going even further to ensure the individual voting a mail-in ballot is being fully protected. This could be accomplished by requiring a photo ID be attached to the ballot. Georgia’s legislature recently passed a bill to enact this security.

Transparency – Too often, we hear stories about individuals not being allowed to observe the elections process in a meaningful way. Currently, several of these stories fall into the he-said-she-said category of conflicts.

Florida is pursuing laws that would bar the exclusion of parties and candidates from observing signature matching and vote counting. Texas ought to have cameras live streaming vote tabulating locations to ensure we do not run into unadjudicatable events.

Ban private grants – This was and is a massive issuing moving forward. Private companies like Facebook should not be allowed to co-opt and dictate the administration of elections.

While Governor Abbott has made election reform a priority for the session, he’s not enumerated specific policy proposal’s like DeSantis. What Abbott has stated is that SB9, authored in 2019, is a starting place.

The way forward for election integrity is transparency and systems that lower the chance for error and malfeasance. To do this, continual tweaking is needed.

Welp, we had a well-run election that means the system is infallible, and folks will stop trying to cheat to win. This is a ridiculous position to take on its face, but then so are most of the causes the woke left is picking up in 2021.

Taking a session off is not an option when it comes to safeguarding elections.

In 2019, the Texas Senate advanced several meaningful pieces of legislation that would have lead to a more smoothly run 2020 election in Texas.

Unfortunately, the Senate bills were mismanaged in the Texas House. Additionally, Governor Abbott did not intervene to move them through the process or call a special session to address this and other important issues that went unaddressed.

The House and Governor are the areas to focus attention in 2021.

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