Texas lawmakers say the best way to combat mail-in voter fraud is to fine the heck out of offenders and toss them in jail. In response to a rash of absentee voter fraud in West Dallas, Grand Prairie and other parts of the state, the Republican-controlled Legislature is expected to approve bills during its special session that increase penalties for mail-in election crimes targeting the elderly. Misdemeanors will become felonies and low-level felonies would get an upgrade. The fines associated with the crimes also would increase. “Once we increase the penalties, including turning misdemeanors into felonies, our hope is we won’t be dealing with mail-ballot fraud anymore,” said Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth.
On Friday, Goldman laid out his proposal before the House Elections Committee, which is led by Parker Republican Rep. Jodie Laubenberg. His bill mirrors legislation the Senate approved Wednesday by a 21-10 party-line vote.
The bill includes provisions for better signature verification, which has long been a problem for elections officials across the state.
“The laws aren’t drafted tightly enough. Penalties are a part of that, but it’s only one piece,” said Jonathan White, an assistant under Attorney General Ken Paxton. “The tools we have right now need a little sharpening.”