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Relating to election integrity; increasing criminal penalties; creating a criminal offense; creating civil penalties.
The fiscal implications of the bill cannot be determined at this time.
SB 9 would require a paper audit trail for electronic voting systems, unless the system is an auditable voting system. It would also increase criminal penalties, create a criminal offense, and create civil penalties. Specifically, it would create a Class B misdemeanor for a person who impedes access to a polling place. It would also upgrade the offense of a false statement on a registration application from a Class B misdemeanor to a state jail felony. It would upgrade the offense of unlawful assistance to a voter from a Class A misdemeanor to a state jail felony.
Further, SB 9 would require a person who assists a voter who is unable to physically unable to enter the polling place to sign a form that: (1) affirms the voter is physically unable to enter the polling place without assistance, and (2) includes the person's name and address.
Texas Action recommends supporting SB 9 because it promotes limited government by safeguarding the integrity of elections.
However, we are concerned about creating a state jail felony offense for first-time offenders for false statement on a registration application and unlawful assistance. In light of the seriousness of a state felony offense, and the repercussions of having a felony criminal record, this seems disproportionate for first-time offenders. We would support an amendment to make this a Class A Misdemeanor for a first offense.