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Relating to auditable voting systems.
Estimated Twoyear Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for SB598, Committee Report 1st House, Substituted : a negative impact of ($38,724,679) through the biennium ending August 31, 2023.
The bill would make no appropriation but could provide the legal basis for an appropriation of funds to implement the provisions of the bill. The Secretary of State is required to implement a provision of this Act only if the legislature appropriates money specifically for that purpose. If the legislature does not appropriate money specifically for that purpose, the Secretary of State may, but is not required to, implement a provision of this Act using other appropriations available for that purpose.
SB 598 would require that all electronic voting systems have a paper record of votes or produces a paper receipt by which a voter can verify that the voter’s ballot will be counted accurately. The electronic vote would serve as the official record of the ballot unless there is a recount, in which case the paper record of the vote would be used. The auditable voting systems would be required for elections beginning September 1, 2026. An authority which purchased a voting system after September 1, 2014 and before September 1, 2021 may use available state and federal funding to retrofit their system to produce the required paper records.
The bill would also require the general custodian of election records to conduct a risk-limiting audit for a selected statewide race or measure not later than 24 hours after all ballots have been counted in an election in which an auditable voting system described by existing law is used. The secretary of state must publish the results of a risk-limiting audit to its website not later than 3 days after audit is completed. This risk-limiting audit would go into effect for elections after August 31, 2026.
The secretary of state shall conduct a pilot program consisting of at least five counties beginning November 8, 2022 and the results shall be sent to the members of the legislature.
The bill would also require that Beginning September 1, 2026, a voting system may not be capable of being connected to any external or internal communications network or permit wireless communication.
Texas Action supports SB 598 because it helps the government fulfill it's lawful duties without infringing on the rights of Texans. This bill would add additional security to Texas elections by creating increased transparency measures for Texas voting systems. This is consistent with our principles of limited government and individual liberty.