GOP lawmakers heading into the legislative session take aim at voter fraud, despite no evidence of widespread problem

Photo does not have a caption

Editor’s note: This coverage is made possible through Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access. The article is available for reprint under the terms of Votebeat’s republishing policy.

Fresh off a presidential election replete with accusations of election malfeasance but devoid of evidence of widespread fraud in Texas, local Republican leaders say the state needs more laws to protect the integrity of the state’s elections.

To that end, GOP state lawmakers are heading into the next state legislative session with a fistful of anti-fraud bills aimed at an issue that experts — and even some conservatives — acknowledge isn’t much of a problem in the Lone Star State.

Nearly a dozen pieces of legislation, all of them filed by Republicans, take aim at mail-in balloting, illegal voting and misbehaving elections officials — inspired by events and talking points from the previous election cycle.

“Filing legislation that will prevent voter fraud ensures that we have fair elections,” said Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, a member of the House Elections Committee last session and author of several anti-fraud bills. “If people do not trust in the electoral process, they will not trust those who are elected.”

Texas Democrats, who are focusing their efforts on legislation to expand voter access, counter that the bills are being filed as a way to sow mistrust in the process or make it harder to register and vote.

“It’s disingenuous, it hurts the people of Texas, and it creates the spread of misinformation, which is exactly what they’re aiming to do,” said Abhi Rahman, spokesperson for the Texas Democratic Party. “Texas is already the hardest state in the country to vote in, and the fact is we should making it easier, not harder.”

One bill in both the Texas House and Senate limits officials from giving mail-in ballot applications to voters who haven’t requested them, an apparent response to an attempt by former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, a Democrat, to send out applications to all of the nearly 2.5 million registered voters in the Houston area this summer.