American News May 30, 2021 11:56 PM EST

Texas Senate passes bill to purge voter rolls of non-citizens and non-residents

On Sunday, the Texas Senate passed a voter roll maintenance bill that looks to purge non-citizens and non-residents from the state's voter rolls.

Texas Senate passes bill to purge voter rolls of non-citizens and non-residents
Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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On Sunday, the Texas Senate passed a voter roll maintenance bill that looks to purge non-citizens and non-residents from the state's voter rolls.

Senate Bill 155, according to the Texas Scorecard, "adds the Texas attorney general to the list of officials receiving information about voters who identify themselves as not meeting citizenship or residency qualifications for jury service. This means they are also ineligible to be registered to vote in the county in which they were called to serve on a jury—or, in the case of non-citizens, at all."

After prosecutors with the Attorney General’s office confirmed to lawmakers back in 2018 that non-citizens were registering to vote and voting in Texas elections, although it is already considered illegal to do so, the Republican Party of Texas made election integrity its top priority during the 2021 session.

SB 155, as well as its House companion HB 2339, were identified by the Texas GOP as meeting its election integrity policy goals of verifying voter citizenship.

The House has until tonight to vote on the bill before the current session ends. The bill would have to be on the governor's desk on May 31 for his signature.

In Texas, the combination Bill 7 also aims to deal with election integrity by curtailing the use of drop boxes, banning drive-thru voting and 24-hour voting, and requiring voters to request absentee ballots rather than allowing election officials to send applications to all voters. Early voting hours would also be set from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

According to the Texas Tribune, the measures proposed in Texas' Bill 7 include "[making] it a state jail felony for local officials to proactively send mail-in ballot applications to voters who did not request them," prohibiting counties "from using public funds 'to facilitate' the unsolicited distribution of ballot applications by third parties," and requiring voters who request a ballot to "provide their driver's license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number." In regards to the last point, "Voters will also be required to include that information on the return envelopes containing their ballots for their votes to be counted."

It would also expand the rights of "partisan poll watchers," which are people who want to observe for themselves what happens inside polling places.

The bill "would entitle them to be 'near enough to see and hear' the election activity," giving them "'free movement' within a polling place, except for being present at a voting station when a voter is filling out a ballot."

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