Early voting begins tomorrow (Tuesday) in most jurisdictions holding runoff elections on June 8.

SD11: Galveston attorney and former District Judge Susan Criss let us know that she is challenging Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood). We previously reported Criss reactivated her campaign account for what appeared to be a challenge of Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville) based on information in a Texas Ethics Commission report. Criss unsuccessfully sought HD23 in 2014, losing to Wayne Faircloth (45%). Taylor was unopposed in 2016. He defeated Democratic opponent Jacqueline Acquistapace, 66%-34%, for an open seat in 2012.

The 86th Legislature, Regular Session adjourned sine die today (Monday).

Most successful election-related legislation operated at the margins of election administration and voter registration. One of the most significant changes was included in House Bill 2504 by Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster), which requires minor party nominees to pay the same filing fee currently paid by Democratic and Republican primary candidates and changes the threshold for a minor party to gain automatic access to the general election ballot. In testimony, several witnesses argued the bill makes it harder for Libertarian candidates to reach the ballot while making it easier for the Green Party and any other party’s candidates who are nominated by convention.

Two bills could have significant impacts on judicial elections. House Bill 3040 by Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) established the Texas Commission on Judicial Selection and requires it to produce an interim study on the method by which trial and appellate judges are selected. The 15-member commission includes four appointees each of Gov. Greg Abbott (R), Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) and Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton), at least one each must be a Democrat. House Bill 3233 by Klick places tighter restrictions on judicial candidates’ abilities to accept contributions from law firm groups but would abolish voluntary expenditure limits.

The session’s most significant election-related legislation, Senate Bill 9 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), was not placed on a House calendar. The bill, which arose largely out of the interim work done by the Senate Election Integrity Committee, was supported by Tea Party and conservative groups but largely opposed by voting rights, disability rights and progressive groups. There was no House companion, so Senate Bill 9 was its only chance of passage. A significant provision of Senate Bill 9 would have required electronic voting systems to have an auditable paper trail by 2024. Hughes added that provision, which had bipartisan support, to House Bill 2909 by Rep. Stephanie Klick (R-Haltom City), a general election clean-up bill. However, the House refused to concur in Senate amendments – The House Elections Committee, which Klick chairs, stripped this language out of Senate Bill 9. – and the measure died without a conference committee report.

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