Under the auspices of COVID-19, certain areas of the state responded in our most recent election cycle with inconsistent, patchwork voting rules that fall outside the bounds of the election code.
House Bill 3 standardizes elections processes and creates uniformity in our election code for all 254 counties, eliminating the potential for local ad hoc voting procedures that may be applied inconsistently across the state. Uniform application of the election code reduces the likelihood of fraud in our elections and ensures equal opportunities for Texas voters statewide.
HB 3 reduces fraud and other unlawful voting practices:
- Bans “vote harvesting”, the practice of paying a person to gather and submit votes for a specific candidate or measure;
- Eliminates the ability of public officials to distribute unsolicited ballots or applications to vote by mail;
- Strengthens the offense of illegal voting; and
- Criminalizes the intentional miscounting of votes and prohibits the unlawful altering of election procedures.
It also ensures voting by mail is both simple and secure. With the increased number of voters choosing to vote by mail, HB 3 contains commonsense solutions to preserve voters’ abilities to vote by mail while also protecting against efforts to exploit weaknesses in the mail-in ballot process. Among other things, HB 3:
- Improves mail-in ballot integrity by requiring voters to provide certain identifying information on an application for a mail-in ballot, just as they would if they were voting in-person;
- Bans the unlawful distribution of unsolicited applications to vote by mail;
- Protects vulnerable, elderly and disabled voters by safeguarding their ability to vote by mail and receive assistance from a relative, caregiver or friend without facing improper pressure when voting; and
- Ensures voters have the ability to correct mail-in ballot defects.
Finally, HB 3 strengthens voter confidence and provides greater transparency in the process by ensuring poll watchers are allowed to watch and observe election activities in polling places and ballot counting areas and protects them from being removed from a location unless they have violated the law or breached the peace.
Transparency is vital for voter confidence. For the official bill’s progress and its actual text, please fact-check for yourself whether what you are reading on social media, or hearing from certain news outlets, bears truth.
When the delinquent Democrats return to work from Washington D.C., the language of the bill may evolve through amendment. The above links will be updated to reflect that progress.