Press Release from State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
May 26, 2001
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Madden, Ellis bill to Streamline Motor Voter Act Sent to Governor
Bill would Allow Electronic Transfer of Voter Registration Information

(Austin)// Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Representative Jerry Madden (R-Richardson) today announced the passage of HB2691, legislation that allows electronic transfer of voter registration information from Department of Public Safety, which account for almost half of all voter registrations.

"This is an important step to modernize our voting system to bring it into the digital age," said Senator Ellis, who was an architect of the Texas Motor Voter Program a decade ago. "Texas will use technology to reduce errors and lost registrations, helping ensure that our elections will run more smoothly and accurately."

Harris County has developed a program that would allow any county to receive the new voter data and signature captured electronically by DPS once they have confirmed the address information, allowing new voter registrations to be processed more quickly and accurately. Currently, the data is copied onto a card, then the cards are shipped to the voter processing center, then re-entered into a computer system there. Losses and transcription errors abound. HB 2691 immediately provides Harris and Dallas Counties the authority to participate in the electronic transfer. Counties with a population from 400,000 to 1.2 million (Collin, Denton, El Paso, Hidalgo, and Travis) also may participate if their commissioners court makes a request. Under the legislation, DPS will be givenadditional time to provide the technology to smaller counties later.

The lawmakers praised DPS for coming up with the transfer capabilities and working closely with them and the Secretary of State to implement it more widely.

"DPS already transfers the same data electronically in order to create driver's licenses," said Representative Madden. "This simple extension of that capability will begin to deliver the enhanced integrity that our citizens are owed by the electoral system.."