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New Texas law toughens penalties for mail-in voter fraud
After months of working on it, debating on it and revising it, Senate Bill 5 will be signed by Governor Greg Abbott on Friday and will become law Dec. 1.
Rudy Trevino, KIII 7:30 PM. CDT August 15, 2017
CORPUS CHRISTI (KIII NEWS) - After months of working on it, debating on it and revising it, Senate Bill 5 will be signed by Governor Greg Abbott on Friday and will become law Dec. 1.
What is Senate Bill 5? It toughens the penalities against those who commit mail-in voter fraud.
"They told me that I had already checked in at Central Library this morning at 9:40 and I've been in school all day, and I obviously didn't go vote," Kitt Richardson said after being unable to vote.
Complaints were made after last November's general elections by people who said they were not allowed to cast their ballots after being told they had already voted.
"It really clarifies what voter fraud is," Nueces County Clerk Kara Sands said.
Sands, among many Texas elections officials who testified before lawmakers during the special session, is in support of tougher mail-in voter fraud laws.
Now, anyone who is caught harvesting votes either by going to nursing homes, knocking door-to-door or requesting mail-in ballots, will face tough jail time if convicted.
"You'll get up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine," Sands said.
The law prohibits the use of an electronic signature and requires signature verification for absentee ballots. Now, rejected mail-in ballots suspected of fraud must be reported within 30 days to the State Attorney General.
"Also you cannot register someone to vote without them knowing, and that's also a problem. People were registered and they had no idea that they were registered to vote," Sands said. "So that is also now illegal. So it really clarifies what voter fraud is."
SB 5 coupled with another new law goes after organized vote harvesters.
"That if three or more people are convicted or found to have committed, conspired in voter fraud, they could be prosecuted under the RICO Act," Sands said. "It would be recognized as organized crime."
As far as ongoing voter fraud investigations are concerned, she said the AG's office is currently looking at four cases that could end in arrests soon.
The new voter fraud laws go into effect later this year.
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