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Review legislation that passed the House, but died in the Senate
during the 74th Regular Session, specifically H.B. 483, H.B. 1859,
H.B. 2239, H.B. 2241, and H.B. 2243.
During the 74th Legislature, the House Interim Committee on Elections
assigned subcommittees to hold hearings in election-related areas,
including judicial finance reform, voting by affidavit (a person
who appears at the polls without a voter registration card and
whose name does not appear in the voter rolls can cast a ballot
by signing an affidavit that the person is entitled to vote),
early voting by mail, general cleanup of the election process,
and issues related to election precincts and polling places.
The result of the subcommittees' work were several omnibus bills,
which, except for H.B. 2239 (relating to early voting process
and procedures and providing for criminal penalties), were uncontroversial.
Study the problems associated with early voting by mail.
The committee established the House Subcommittee on Early Voting
by Mail and Primary Election Dates (subcommittee) to study problems
associated with early voting by mail, study the feasibility of
moving the primary, and consider holding a separate presidential
primary. To be eligible to vote by mail, a voter must meet certain
statutory criteria. Testimony before the subcommittee concerning
early voting by mail revealed widespread manipulation and fraud
within the system.
Study the feasibility of moving the primary election date and
consider holding a separate presidential primary.
In 1988, Texas changed its primary dates from May to March to
join in the early regional primary, known as "Super Tuesday,"
in hopes of increasing Southern influence. However, attention
now focuses on the early primaries, beginning in February, so
the move did not have as much impact as hoped. The March primary
date gives candidates less time to campaign. There was no consensus
or supporting testimony for holding a separate presidential primary.
Monitor and oversee agencies and programs under the committee's
jurisdiction, including the implementation of the 1995 Judicial
Campaign Fairness Act (Act).
The committee established the House Subcommittee on Judicial Campaign
Fairness Act and Voting Rights Act (JCFA Subcommittee), which
held public hearings on the Act. The Act, applicable to all appellate
court justices and judges, as well as to district, statutory county,
or statutory probate court judges, sets mandatory limits on campaign
contributions and voluntary limits on campaign expenditures.
Study how the State of Texas can be removed from the U.S. Justice
Department's enforcement of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
Section 5 of the VRA provides that states, counties, or towns
who had used literacy tests or other devices to discourage minority
voters cannot implement a new voting procedure without first obtaining
approval from the U.S. Attorney General or the District Court
of District Columbia. Texas falls within Section 5. If a covered
jurisdiction establishes that, during the preceding 10 years,
it has complied with the VRA and undertaken efforts to ensure
equal participation by minorities, the jurisdiction may escape
Section 5 coverage.