Thu. Feb 2nd, 2023

From today’s NBC News:

Texas Republicans are laying the groundwork to move quickly on a number of new changes to the state’s voting laws, including a proposal to create an election police force like the one Florida enacted before the 2022 midterms.

As of Friday, GOP legislators had already prefiled 20 bills in the Texas House and Senate. When the legislative session begins in January, they’re likely to consider many of them seriously. 

Most of the bills fall into three categories: legislation that would impose harsher penalties for infractions; expand the state attorney general’s authority to prosecute election and voting crimes; and create a new law enforcement unit dedicated exclusively to enforcing and prosecuting election and voting crimes.

The proposals have alarmed voting rights activists and state Democrats, who tried and failed last year to block a GOP-backed overhaul of election laws — a priority of Gov. Greg Abbott — in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s false claims that widespread fraud cost him a second term. Trump and his allies could not prove their claims in court, while officials in Texas, which overwhelmingly voted for Trump, spent 22,000 hours looking for voter fraud and uncovered only 16 cases of false addresses on registration forms, according to The Houston Chronicle

The new bills “all kind of generally fit under the bucket of criminalizing voters and voting behavior, and just generally turn elections into crime scenes, where there is this presumption that there is some kind of widespread illegal conduct or activity, despite the fact that there is no evidence that’s the case,” said Liz Avore, a senior policy adviser at Voting Rights Lab, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that tracks voting and state election bills.

Texas Democrats have also been busy, prefiling 42 bills already, all of which, in various ways, aim to ease existing restrictions on voting and voter registration. Advocates note, however, that most aren’t likely to advance in the state, where Republicans hold both chambers of the Legislature as well as the governorship.

Read the complete story here.

By Editor