Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a significant bill on Tuesday that intensifies the state’s stance against election fraud.
The new law, known as House Bill 1243, has reinstated election fraud as a serious criminal offense – a felony that carries a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
Governor Abbott has been clear about his support for the new law. He even took to Twitter to share the news, writing, “I signed a law that makes election fraud a felony in Texas. Voting illegally can lead to a 20-year sentence. Don’t mess with Texas elections.”
I signed a law that makes election fraud a felony in Texas.
Voting illegally can lead to a 20-year sentence.
Don’t mess with Texas elections.https://t.co/C0cDyE3Dnq
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 15, 2023
According to the Dallas News, election fraud’s classification in Texas has been a roller coaster ride in recent years. Only a few years ago, a Republican-led initiative in the Texas House opted to reduce the penalty for election fraud from a felony to a misdemeanor. This was done in response to rising concerns over the possibility of accidental illegal voting.
However, the tide has turned again as lawmakers have decided to reinstate the felony classification. The bill was passed in the House on April 28, 2023, with a vote of 88-60, and was later approved in the Senate with a 19-11 vote on May 24. The law will officially come into effect on September 1, 2023.
The sponsor of the bill, Representative Cole Hefner, has been vocal about the need for the law. He asserts that its primary goal is to bolster Texans’ confidence in the voting process.
In Hefner’s words, “We must ensure that Texans are confident that the legitimate votes they cast will be counted and are not canceled out by someone who has knowingly or intentionally cast an illegal ballot.”
The Republican Party in Texas has continuously made election fraud a key issue, especially during President Donald Trump’s tenure as party leader. Following the 2020 election, wherein Trump contested the results of widespread fraud, there was an amplified push for comprehensive election laws. This led to the enactment of significant legislation in 2021.
The 2021 law brought several changes to the mail ballot process, including the introduction of new voter ID checks.
The Gateway Pundit reported in 2021 that Raquel Rodriguez, a consultant for GOP House candidate Mauro Garza was caught on camera coercing and bribing voters into voting Democrat.
Later on, Rodriguez admits that what she is doing is illegal and brags about giving the elderly voter a pretty shawl as a gift for her Democrat vote!
Ken Paxton announced Raquel Rodriguez was arrested for election fraud, illegal voting, unlawfully assisting people voting by mail, and unlawfully possessing an official ballot following the Project Veritas expose.
In 2019, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley announced a voter fraud alert after 95,000 individuals identified by DPS as non-U.S. citizens have a matching voter registration record in Texas, approximately 58,000 of whom have voted in one or more Texas elections.
And during the 2022 midterm election, more than 16,000 ballots were rejected.