Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, recently changed his mind about Senate Bill 1 and is now calling for higher penalties on those who cast illegal votes in the state of Texas.
The governor asked state lawmakers to reconsider the bill signed into law last month that lowered illegal voting penalties within Texas from a second degree felony to a Class A misdemeanor.
Gov. Abbott argued in a press release that since Texas has been making “tremendous progress” in ensuring election transparency, penalties should be strengthened to prevent more voter discrepancies, not lessened.
“By increasing penalties for illegal voting, we will send an even clearer message that voter fraud will not be tolerated in Texas,” Abbott said.
The Texas penal code states that a second-degree felony can be punishable by up to 20 years in prison, whereas a class A misdemeanor is punishable up to a year in jail or via a fine.
Additionally, the state Senate bill included measures that would tighten state election laws and restrict local control over the process.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, R-Texas, alleged that the voting penalty decrease was a last-minute move added to Senate Bill 1, which passed “under the radar” to Abbott’s desk at the time of signing.
To remedy this, Patrick stated the governor and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton “agreed” to correct it. The revised version is expected to pass the state Senate next week.
This move comes amid mounting pressure from state Republicans and President Trump himself calling for stricter oversight and penalties against illegal voting.
President Trump last week spoke with Gov. Abbott, saying it would be a “big mistake” if legislation isn’t passed in regard to ensuring election integrity and transparency by conducting a full forensic election audit. At the same time, the Texas secretary of state similarly announced an ongoing investigation into four of the largest counties in Texas to uncover potential discrepancies.
Nevertheless, state legislators have pledged to Trump and Republican supporters that they would be doing whatever they can to ensure full forensic election audit bills are passed.