AUSTIN, Texas — Lawmakers in the Texas Senate are working to fix what some Republican leaders have called a mistake, tied to a bill Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law in 2021.
The Senate on Tuesday passed Senate Bill 2. It increases the punishment for illegal voting to a felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Lawmakers previously lowered the penalty to a misdemeanor, as part of a sweeping elections bill passed during the last legislative session in 2021. But after that bill was signed into law, Republican leaders said that part of the bill should be corrected to deter people from trying to vote illegally.
"The goal is to deter illegal votes. Let me be very clear. Yes, I want to deter illegal voting, no matter who they're for or against," State Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) said.
But some Democratic lawmakers say this could have a chilling effect on all voters.
"I think that we have now moved into a territory where we're prosecuting people for well-intentioned mistakes," State Sen. Sarah Eckhardt (D-Austin) said.
The bill passed the Senate with a vote of 19-12. It will now head to the Texas House for approval.