Election legislation roundup: Texas State Senate

As of March 26, Ballotpedia has tracked 55 election-related bills in the Texas State Senate since the beginning of the year. Of the 55, Ballotpedia tracked 28 from March 20-26. Republicans sponsored all 28. Five of 28 bills are highlighted below:   

  • TX SB1485: Relating to the public inspection of election records, Sen. Bob Hall (R).
    • As introduced, this bill:
      • Specifies that election records that are public information must be made available no later than ten days after a request for public inspection is received.
      • Defines “election record” to include anything created by the government, in addition to anything distributed or received.
      • Requires that election records including original voter ballots, and images of voted ballots, be made available for public inspection by the 60th day after an election.
      • Requires the custodian of records to adopt procedures that remove personally identifiable information of the voter contained on a ballot that is made available for public inspection.
  • TX SB1994: Relating to vote harvesting; creating a civil penalty, Sen. Mayes Middleton (R).
    • As introduced, this bill:
      • Clarifies that a person committing the offense of vote harvesting is liable to any candidate or party harmed by the services for damages and penalties.
      • Outlines what a person needs to demonstrate to prove that they were harmed by vote harvesting services.
      • Outlines what must be demonstrated to establish standing in the case.
      • Lists what a litigant who prevails may be able to recover in compensation and penalties.
      • Specifies penalties when a litigant who can demonstrate that the number of voters contacted by the vote harvesting service exceeds the number of votes by which he or she lost the election.
      • Provides that a person found liable for damages is jointly liable with any other defendant for the entire amount of damages.
      • Clarifies that a case may be brought in the county where any part of the vote harvesting services occurred.
  • TX SB1338: Relating to the eligibility of certain persons to vote early by mail, Sen. Bob Hall (R).
    • As introduced, this bill removes the eligibility of persons based on age to vote early by mail.
  • TX SB1608: Relating to the election date for the authorization of the issuance of bonds or a tax increase, Sen. Kevin Sparks (R).
    • As introduced, this bill requires an election for issuance of bonds or tax increase to occur during a November election.
  • TX SB1661: Relating to the systems used in a central counting station, Sen. Bryan Hughes (R).
    • As introduced, this bill modifies requirements for the purchase or use of ballot scanning equipment, requiring the ballot scanner to only use a data storage device (rather than disc) that is incapable of being modified without rendering the device unreadable.

During the week of March 20-26, Ballotpedia tracked 50 Senate election-related bills nationally. As of March 26, Ballotpedia has tracked 770 Senate bills nationally. Ballotpedia tracked the most Senate bills this year in the New York State Senate with 125, while Ballotpedia tracked the fewest Senate bills in Louisiana and Massachusetts with zero. Republicans sponsored 367 of these bills, while Democrats sponsored 311. Minor party sponsorship and bills with no sponsors accounted for 67 bills, while bipartisan legislators sponsored 25. 

As of March 26, Ballotpedia has tracked 382 Senate bills in Democratic trifectas and 301 Senate bills in Republican trifectas. A trifecta is when one political party holds the governorship and majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. Ballotpedia has tracked 87 Senate bills in states where neither party holds trifecta control.

The Texas Senate is scheduled to be in session from Jan. 10 to May 29 this year. In 2022, Ballotpedia tracked zero Senate bills related to election administration. Texas is a Republican trifecta.

Additional reading: