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The Texas House committee advances election bill making it illegal for officials to send vote-by-mail applications



AUSTIN, TX – On Thursday, the Texas House Elections Committee advanced a bill that would make it a crime for election officials to send unsolicited vote-by-mail applications to a voter who did not request one.

Republican state Rep. Briscoe Cain’s House Bill 6 is one effort Republicans are pushing in the legislation to counter voter fraud on Texas’ already restrictive voting rules. According to the Texas Tribune, the legislation was approved by the House Elections Committee on a party-line vote with only Republicans voting in favor.

This measure would heavily target Harris County’s initiatives from the 2020 general election. Multiple counties around Texas sent unsolicited applications to voters who were 65 years and older, who automatically qualify to vote by mail in Texas. But Harris County faced backlash after county officials attempted to send applications to all 2.4 million registered voters in the county with specific instructions on how to determine if they were eligible in 2020. The Texas Supreme Court blocked that effort in September.

Also according to the Texas Tribune, the bill would set up new rules for people assisting voters, like those with disabilities or those who speak another language, in casting their ballots. The voter can select anyone to help them through the process as long as they’re not an employer or a union leader. But the bill would require those helping voters to disclose the reason they need help.

Many partisan poll watchers, who are appointed by candidates and political parties to observe voting at polling places, endorsed the bill because of the protections it creates for them like deciding whether or not a voter is breaking a law.

The bill has picked up opposition from civil rights groups who have said the legislation could deter voters of color and those with disabilities who are more likely to need help in voting places. Advocates for people with disabilities in Texas worried it could violate the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the Texas Tribune.

Cain has stated that the measure is meant to “restore trust in the electoral process.”

Cain said in presenting the bill in committee, “when people do not have confidence in our electoral institutions, when political legitimacy is questioned, liberty is threatened. Therefore it is incumbent on the Texas Legislature this session to ensure that elections, the bedrock of our republic, are free and secure.”

In 2020, Cain volunteered with the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania as it attempted to overturn the outcome of the election and toss that state’s votes, according to the Texas Tribune. This was an unsuccessful effort.

Corporations such as Dell and American Airlines, with offices located in Texas, have spoken out against this legislation as well.

The bill now heads to the House Calendars Committee. This will determine whether the bill will make it to the full Texas House for a vote.