87th LegislatureIssuesState HouseState SenateAbbott Tasks Lawmakers During Special Session With Undoing Downgrade of Penalties for Illegal Voting

As part of the Election Integrity Protection Act of 2021, Texas lawmakers reduced penalties for voting illegally.
September 30, 2021
On Thursday afternoon, Governor Greg Abbott notified the state legislature that he has added an elections-related item to the agenda for the third special session, which is currently in progress.

The language of the item Abbott added states, “Legislation increasing the penalties for illegal voting that were reduced in the Senate Bill No. 1 that passed in the 87th Legislature, Second Called Session.”

Senate Bill 1 is the Election Integrity Protection Act of 2021, which the Texas legislature passed in a second special session after a quorum break by Democrats threatened the viability of the legislation. Abbott signed the bill into law on September 7.

Partially in response to cases such as that of a woman who received a five-year prison sentence after illegally voting in the 2016 presidential election while on parole, lawmakers downgraded the penalty for illegal voting in SB 1 from a felony to a misdemeanor.

The law also requires trial courts to discuss with people convicted of felonies “how the felony conviction will impact the defendant’s right to vote in this state.”

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In a press release announcing the move, Abbott took a less lenient stance against voting illegally.

“The State of Texas has made tremendous progress in upholding the integrity of our elections,” Abbott said. “By increasing penalties for illegal voting, we will send an even clearer message that voter fraud will not be tolerated in Texas.”

Abbott called the state legislature to Austin for a third special session to address redistricting, distribution of COVID-19 relief funds, a bill requiring public school student athletes to compete based on their biological sex, and clamping down on vaccine mandates by state agencies and local governments.

The governor later added bail reform and property tax relief to the agenda.

A copy of Abbott’s proclamation can be found below.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."