On August 19, the Texas House officially reached a quorum. With the required number of members now present to conduct business, committees can start meeting in committee to consider the critical items on Governor Abbott’s agenda. I look forward to taking swift action on items such as election integrity, bail reform, border security, and property tax reform so that members can get back home to hear from constituents.
It has become increasingly clear in recent days that much of the conversation surrounding the Texas House’s sweeping election integrity bill is wrought with misinformation. Let me state now—House Bill 3 is only intended to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat.
I have heard many times that this bill limits voting times and excludes individuals who do not work a traditional eight-to-five job from being able to vote. In reality, House Bill 3 increases what is currently the law regarding the minimum number of hours that polls must be open during early voting. If passed, this bill will allow polls to open as early as 6:00 am and go as late as 10:00 pm. Additionally, the Texas Election Code requires employers to allow employees to vote—any attempt to undermine this requirement is a class C misdemeanor in Texas.
Second, a claim has been made that House Bill 3 allows partisan poll watchers to intimidate citizens while they’re voting and that the presiding judge will have trouble removing the poll watcher if they violate the law. Actually, the bill does nothing to allow poll watchers to be in a voting booth with a voter. It does, however, require poll watchers to sign an oath stating they will not disrupt or harass voters. And the bill explicitly states that a judge can enlist the help of law enforcement to remove a poll watcher who disrupts the peace or violates any law.
Finally, an assumption has been made that Republicans in Austin have refused to work with Democrats and that the bill now under consideration is the exact same as the bill that was introduced during the Regular Session. In fact, House Bill 3 now includes several bipartisan amendments that were offered on the House floor in May. For example, House Bill 3 ensures that any voter who is in line at the time a polling place closes will indeed get to vote that evening. Further, the bill maintains curbside voting for eligible voters such as the elderly and those with disabilities.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762. Additionally, I welcome you to follow along on my Official Facebook Page, where I will be posting regular updates on what’s happening in your State Capitol and sharing information that could be useful to you and your family: https://www.facebook.com/RepTrentAshby/.