The Senate approved Senate Bill 9 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) on a 19-12 vote (probably party-line, but we do not have the official vote tally). It was amended nine times, and five amendments failed adoption. The Senate has not put those amendments online as of press time.

The bill creates a number of new requirements for people who need assistance when voting that disability groups, MALDEF, the Texas Civil Rights Project, the League of Women Voters and others argue will make it harder for people to vote. The bill increases criminal penalties for election-related offenses, which those groups argue will suppress voter registration and turnout among historically marginalized communities. The bill, as it passed committee, would require counties to implement auditable voting systems that included paper verification by 2024.

The bill, which was supported by Tea Party and other conservative groups, was largely the result of the work of an interim committee on election security. In a statement, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) said the bill will “ensure our democratic process is secure. Citizens must be confident in the integrity of their elections.”

The bill, as amended, goes to the House where no companion measure was filed.

©2019 Texas Election Source LLC