Articles about voting issues in Texas.

Texas: Hughes’ committee election report calls for paper ballot trail, lays ground for bills in 2019 Legislature | Longview News-Journal

A 17-page report issued by a Texas Senate panel led by East Texas state Sen. Bryan Hughes gives a preview of election security bills that lawmakers will take up when they convene in Austin at the new year. Released to the public Wednesday, the report by the Senate Select Committee on Election Security does not include recommendations on combating mail ballot fraud. That topic took up much of the seven-member, bipartisan panel’s only meeting Feb. 22. … The report devotes much of its attention to the cybersecurity of voting systems in Texas and recommends that all electronic voting machines in the state produce a paper ballot voters can inspect before casting their ballots. Read More

Texas: Texas Legal Fight Over Redistricting Isn’t Over | Dallas Observer

It turns out the nearly decade-long fight over Texas’ legislative districts didn’t actually end with the Supreme Court’s ruling against the plaintiffs in June. Late Friday afternoon, the coalition of voting rights groups that have fought the state for fairer legislative districts since the last round of redistricting in 2010 filed a pair of new briefs with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin. They seek to have the state forced back into federal preclearance under the Voting Rights Act. States subject to the VRA’s preclearance provision must seek and receive federal approval for any changes they make to any law that applies to voting. Texas has been free from the requirement since 2013, when the Supreme Court cleared the list of states subject to preclearance, but could be placed back on the naughty list if federal courts determine that the state is intentionally discriminatory in its voting laws. Read More

Texas: Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrates eight-year sentence against woman who accidentally voted illegally. | Salon

Earlier this month, the Texas 2nd Court of Appeals affirmed Rosa Maria Ortega’s eight-year prison sentence for illegal voting. Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrated the decision in a triumphant press release boasting of Ortega’s draconian punishment. But there is nothing just about the fact that Ortega may spend the next eight years languishing behind bars for unknowingly casting illegal ballots. To the contrary, her sentence is wildly out of proportion with her crime—the possible result of prosecutorial chicanery during closing arguments that has no place in a courtroom. And it’s yet another example of prosecutors using isolated cases of illegal voting to intimidate legitimate voters out of casting a ballot. Although Paxton has presented Ortega’s conduct as evidence that voter fraud is a genuine problem in Texas, her case bears no resemblance to the paranoid myth of immigrants covertly swinging elections. Ortega is a lawful permanent resident who was brought to the United States as a baby. She has a sixth-grade education and did not know that she could not legally vote. Read More

Texas: A Woman Who Voted With A Green Card Was Sentenced To 8 Years In Prison — And A Court Upheld It | Bustle

On Wednesday, an appeals court upheld a voter fraud conviction against a Texas woman who voted with a green card. Rosa Maria Ortega was originally convicted in 2017, despite the fact that she claimed she had no idea her green card didn’t provide her voting rights. Now, Ortega, a mother of four, has been sentenced to a jail time of eight years, as well as likely deportation. According to NBC News, Ortega voted five times from 2004-2014, and served as a poll worker; she even voted for the attorney general who is now prosecuting her, a man named Ken Paxton. Ortega’s attorney told The Washington Post in 2017, “She’s got this [green] card that says ‘resident’ on it, so she doesn’t mark that she’s not a citizen. She had no ulterior motive beyond what she thought, mistakenly, was her civic duty.” In a statement in 2017, when Ortega was first convicted, Paxton said, “This case shows how serious Texas is about keeping its elections secure, and the outcome sends a message that violators of the state’s election law will be prosecuted to the fullest.” He added, “Safeguarding the integrity of our elections is essential to preserving our democracy.” Read More

Texas: Should Texas require county voting machines to have a paper trail? | Victoria Advocate

In the wake of the November midterm elections, counties throughout the U.S. are taking stock of their election processes while advocates and legislators debate what should change to make elections more secure and accessible the next time around. The piecemeal method of voting in the U.S. means that regulations and methods of voting vary dramatically from state to state, and sometimes even within states. In Texas, that piecemeal nature is even more on display: Some counties use electronic voting machines, some counties use paper ballots and some use both. One voting reform that’s frequently been invoked amid anxieties about vote recounts or voting systems being hacked is mandating a paper trail. Read More

Texas: State needs new voting machines but will the state pay for them? | KXAN

When many Texas counties bought their latest voting machines, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears just broke up, Nickelback was popular, and the No Child Left Behind Act was signed into law. The year was 2002. Most county officials bought machines after Florida’s fumbled the 2000 election and Congress passed the Help America Vote Act. In 2018, county voting machines confused many Texans who accidentally changed their votes after machines took several seconds to populate results. “Connection issues” plagued Hays County and voting machines temporarily malfunctioned in Williamson County during the 2018 November elections. Several Texas lawmakers filed bills to require new voting machines but one Central Texas lawmaker thinks the state should help pay for them.  Read More

Texas: Straight-ticket voting ends in 2020. For some down-ballot Republicans, that wasn’t soon enough. | The Texas Tribune

As Harris County judge, Ed Emmett led the state’s biggest county — 4.7 million people — through its most devastating natural disaster. That work won the moderate Republican bipartisan support, even in a county that overwhelmingly went blue in 2016. But last week, Emmett lost his re-election bid in a close race — the closest in the county. And come January, the incumbent will turn his job over to Democrat Lina Hidalgo, a 27-year-old political newcomer who had never attended a meeting of the commissioners court she will now lead (she has, she said, watched them online). At the top of the ticket, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz lost the county by more than 200,000 votes; Emmett’s race — midway down the longest ballot in the country — was decided by a margin of about 19,000 votes. Read More

Texas: Harris County keeps some voting locations open an extra hour | The Texas Tribune

A state district judge has ordered Harris County to extend voting hours at nine polling locations that failed to open on time this morning. The order to keep nine voting locations open an extra hour until 8 p.m. came soon after the Texas Civil Rights Project and the Texas Organizing Project sued the county over delays at those polling places. The groups alleged that the county was violating the Texas Election Code because polling locations that opened after 7 a.m. would not remain open to voters for 12 hours on Election Day as required by state law. In a lawsuit filed Tuesday afternoon, the two groups noted that the nine polling locations across the state’s biggest county “not only failed to open at 7 a.m., but remained closed until well after 7 a.m.,” the plaintiffs wrote. Voting was further delayed at some polling locations because of equipment issues, including sign-in and voting machines that weren’t working. Read More

Texas: Straight-ticket voting problems could be due to old machines | The Texas Tribune

A national spotlight fell on Texas’ voting equipment last week after some voters complained that their votes on electronic voting machines had changed. State election officials chalked it up to user error. Critics alleged malfeasance or a software bug. The Austin-based company behind the machines says an important piece of context is missing from this debate: these machines are 16 years old. “It’s very much like someone calling Apple and asking for support on their iPhone 1,” said Steven Sockwell, vice president of marketing at Hart InterCivic. Most Texas counties last upgraded their electronic voting machines well over a decade ago, tapping billions in funds Congress approved to upgrade voting equipment around the country following election irregularities during the 2000 presidential election. Dozens of Texas counties purchased Hart’s eSlate machines. It’s those same machines that a number of voters attempted to cast straight-ticket ballots on last week only to hit a snag: when they reviewed their list of candidates on the summary screen, their choices were deselected or a candidate from an opposing party was selected. Read More

Texas: Fighting for the Right to Vote in a Tiny Texas County | The Atlantic

In Waller County, Texas, a 40,000-strong exurb to the northwest of Houston, early voting is simple. Texas law mandates that the county maintain a main voting site, located in the county seat of Hempstead, that is open for at least five hours every day from Monday, October 22, to Friday, November 2. During those two weeks, satellite centers provide voting hours farther out in the county. Residents in the towns of Brookshire and Waller, two of the larger places in Waller County, have multiple days to cast a ballot in both the first and second week of early voting. As guided by state law, the early-voting plans in Waller County are intended to both maximize a finite pool of resources and ensure that most of the voters in the county have at least some convenient entry points for early voting that can fit into their schedule. All of that applies so long as you aren’t a black college student, according to a lawsuit filed last week in a U.S. district court by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The suit, brought on behalf of several students at Prairie View A&M University, alleges that the county shortchanges students with a local early-voting plan that uniquely constrains their choices, offering only three days of on-campus early voting in the second week.* Read More