As of today, election fraud is no longer a misdemeanor. It is now a felony in the state of Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott has recently signed new legislation that will increase the punishment for election fraud to up to 20 years in prison.
Voter election fraud has been a hot topic in the Lone Star State since 2019 when the penalties for this crime were reduced to a misdemeanor, and then soon after, the local government was in talks about raising it back up again.
Gov. Greg Abbott has been pushing for an increase in punishment for election fraud since 2021, but at the time, had received lots of pushback from the Republican House Speaker, Dade Phelan, during a legislative session.
One of the reasons why there was pushback and hesitance in increasing the misdemeanor back up to a felony was because of the risk of human error while voters filled out votes. James Slattery, who is a senior supervising legislative attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, spoke about this potential problem, saying, “It’s not fair for people to go to jail for good-faith mistakes,” according to the Texas Tribune.
Since the 2020 election scandal in Texas, Republicans have been pushing for Texas to change the way elections are run and how they currently prosecute those committing election fraud.
In his speech at the 2023 NRA Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, President Trump expressed his thoughts on the debacle. “That was the worst horror show, I think, one of the greatest criminal acts ever, the election of 2020, but we will turn that around….”
Now, Abbott has turned that around by signing this new legislation. Rep. Cole Hefner, R-Mount Pleasant, who is also the author of this legislation, explains the need for this punishment.
Hefner said, “We have made tremendous strides toward election integrity in recent years, but we must ensure Texans are confident the legitimate votes they cast will be counted and are not canceled out by someone who has knowingly or intentionally cast an illegal ballot.”