AUSTIN, Texas — Among the hot-button topics in the Texas special session is the "election integrity" or "voter suppression" bill, depending on who you ask.
Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3 contain similar provisions, which include banning 24-hour voting and ending drive-thru voting. Both of these aspects were a factor in the Lone Star State for the 2020 election to help people vote during the coronavirus pandemic. SB1 passed in the Texas Senate on Tuesday. The Texas House will need to reach quorum before HB3 can be passed.
Texas Republican leaders have supported the legislation, saying it would protect the integrity of elections from voter fraud. Those who oppose the legislation claim that voter fraud is not happening on a wide scale.
Our VERIFY team looked into the numbers to see just how many cases of voter fraud have been prosecuted by the State over the past decade and a half.
True: State Attorney General's Office records show offenses for either mail ballot fraud, assistance fraud or illegal voting since 2004.
False: Comparing the number of offenses to the number of voters, records show crimes related to voting are not widespread.
We looked at the voter turnout numbers from the Texas Secretary of State's website and compared them with voter fraud case data from the Texas Attorney General's Office. The data from the Attorney General's Office is updated as of March 2021.
According to records from the Texas Attorney General's Office, there were a total of 534 offenses charged to 154 people (some had multiple offenses) for either mail ballot fraud, assistance fraud or illegal voting since 2004. Among those 534 offenses, 310 were for mail-in ballot fraud, 159 were for assistance fraud and 189 were for illegal voting. A total of 272 charges of the 534 offenses resolved were from 2015 to March 2021.
There are also 510 total counts pending prosecution, according to the report.
It is important to note that the report says the document "does not record or report offenses handled exclusively by local law enforcement, district, county attorneys and federal authorities." Rather, the document "reflects cases investigated and prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General."
Adding up the voter turnout for every presidential election, gubernatorial election and primary elections dating back to 2004, there were nearly 94 million votes cast, according to the Texas Secretary of State's website.
Here is a breakdown of the voter turnout numbers:
- 2020: 15,426,651
- 2018: 10,989,691
- 2016: 13,804,908
- 2014: 7,599,378
- 2012: 11,381,735
- 2010: 7,835,012
- 2008: 12,315,103
- 2006: 5,563,589
- 2004: 8,937,611
Comparing the two figures, that would mean approximately 0.0006% of the votes cast in that timeframe resulted in a prosecution case being resolved. When you include the 510 pending cases, that percentage rises to 0.001%.
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