by Emily Cook
CRTX News Contributor
The House Committee on Elections, chaired by State Representative Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker), will be kept busy during the remainder of the 85th Session of the Texas Legislature. A slew of bills have been filed on both sides of the political aisles proposing changes to Texas’ election process.
Several bills take aim at the lengthy timetable of Texas’ primary election cycle. House Bill 1683 by State Representative Pat Fallon (R-Denton) and House Bill 288 by State Representative Mark Keough (R-The Woodlands) reduces early voting by a week. Currently, Texas primary voters have two weeks in which to vote early prior to Election Day.
House Bill 533 by State Representative Mike Schofield (R-Katy) moves the primary runoff date to the second Tuesday in April, instead of the fourth Tuesday in May. As the regular primary Election Day is in early March, the primaries are currently held almost three full months after voters first headed to the polls. Such a lengthy delay is not helpful; many voters forget an election they cared about is still ongoing, turnout decreases, and the cost of campaigns increases significantly. Moving the runoff date up is a smart move across the board.
When a local governing body holds bond elections, these elections are often stand-alone elections. A bond election asks taxpayers to approve or disapprove proposals for the governing entity to raise taxes and use the additional revenue to fund a certain project. The most common bond elections revolve around local school districts. House Bill 212 by State Representative Drew Springer (R-Gainesville) and Representative Schofield would require all bond elections, except those for municipal utility districts, to be placed on the November ballot. Requiring bond elections to appear on the ballot with other mainstream elections increases voter turnout, allowing for a more representative cross-section of the taxed population to participate in the approval or rejection process.
Texas operates as an “open-primary” state. An open-primary state allows voters to participate in any party’s primary without having to pledge allegiance, or membership, to a particular political party. Such a system allows Democrats to vote in Republican primaries for the least conservative candidate, and vice versa. Across Texas, liberal candidates emerge in the Republican primary dressed as conservatives to unsuspecting voters (who mistakenly think a candidate would not lie about their political preference), only to have the area’s leading Democrats quietly whispering behind-the-scenes for Democrats to vote in the Republican primary, helping the masquerading candidate. Such a situation played out in the immediate past election cycle for House District 60, whereby the chair of the local Democrat party was revealed to be encouraging Democrat candidates to drop out of the Democrat primary, leaving no contested races on their ballot so members could legally vote in the Republican primary. Luckily, the actual Republicans won, and Representative Mike Lang (R-Granbury) now proudly represents House District 60.
Many bills have been filed in the Texas House of Representatives to move Texas from an open-primary to a closed primary state. These bills include House Bill 1072 by Representative Lang, House BIll 1061 by Representative Matt Rinaldi (R-Coppell), House Bill 1347 by Representative Fallon, and House Bill 1353 by Representative Matt Shaheen (R- Plano). If any of these measures are successful, Texas primary voters would first be required to register as a member of the political party in which a voter seeks to cast a vote, and allowed to only participate in that party’s primary process.
Under the dome of the Texas Capitol, the greatest threat to liberty and freedom does not come from liberal Democrats, but rather from liberals masked as Republicans.
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