Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is asking his state legislature to increase the penalty for anyone convicted of illegal voting.
Abbott’s call for a stiffer penalty comes less than a month after he signed an elections reform bill that lowered the maximum penalty, The Texas Tribune noted.
Under that bill, illegal voting was scheduled to go from a second-degree felony to a Class A misdemeanor in December. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year behind bars. However, they can be resolved with a fine, the Tribune said. In Texas, a second-degree felony is punishable by up to 20 years in jail.
In a tweet, the Republican governor said: “I'm adding increased illegal voting penalties to the Special Session agenda.
"The State of Texas has made tremendous progress in upholding the integrity of our elections. Increasing penalties for illegal voting will send an even clearer message that voter fraud will not be tolerated in Texas."
And his office noted that he had submitted a message to the secretary of the state Senate asking for the increase in the penalty.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick applauded Abbott’s move and said he discovered the problem, along with the governor and state Attorney General Ken Paxton.
He tweeted: "Thanks @GovAbbott for placing a correction to amd. on SB1, which decreases the penalty for voting illegally, on the call. The House added last minute & went under the radar until Gov., @TXAG & I found it & agreed then it must be corrected. The Senate will pass next week.”
Abbott had signed the bill into law on Sept. 7, which mandates sweeping election changes.
On a related note, on Friday afternoon former President Donald Trump issued a statement lauding lawmakers' efforts to advance more complete election audit legislation in Texas. Trump, who won Texas in the November president election over Joe Biden, nonetheless has been crusading against what he says was widespread voter fraud across the country.
Texas has announced forensic audits of its four biggest counties in connection with the 2020 vote, but Trump and his supporters have been pushing for something more.
"Just heard Patriots are moving the Texas Audit Bill forward," Trump said in his statement. "Texas State Senator Paul Bettencourt filed Senate Bill 47, legislation that authorizes Texans to initiate a strong and real Forensic Audit of the 2020 Presidential Election Scam— not a weak risk-limiting audit that is being slow-walked through the Secretary of State’s office. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a great guy, sent the bill to the State Affairs Committee the very same day, and it should quickly pass through the Senate. There is still time for the House to take up the issue in the Third Special session with House Bill 16.
"I’d like to thank Dan and Paul for their bold leadership, and for listening to Texans who are demanding answers about Nov. 3. Everyone feels certain Governor Abbott will follow suit. This will have a big impact on the upcoming 2022 and 2024 elections in Texas. Texas will always be red, but we must stop the cheating.
"Keep it up and get this bill over the finish line. Passing the audit bill will be a Big Win for Texas! Let's make sure the great people of Texas believe and trust their elections.
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