Dan Patrick's Interim Charges Provide Preview of Legislative Priorities for Next Session

Issue to Watch: Election Security

CETex President Dave Jones writes on Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s Interim Charges:

The Lt. Governor has issued his 2024 “Interim Legislative Charges.” The charges include instructions to the Senate State Affairs Committee (Chair Bryan Hughes, Vice Chair Angela Paxton) to address the issue of “Maintaining Election Security,” which the Lt. Governor has defined broadly as including “threats to Texas’s election integrity, including those from ‘Big Tech’ and foreign entities.” It is unclear at this point what that means, but it seems possible that given the past history of the Senate giving support to false claims of election fraud, members of the committee might try to falsely attack electronic poll books, aspects of voter roll list maintenance, electronic voting machines or pursue other disproven radical election conspiracy theories. The charge also includes possible consideration of exaggerated claims of problems with countywide polling and disputed allegations of “illegal electioneering” by school districts and other political subdivisions that could be seen as retribution for a failure to support school voucher proposals. Any committee consideration of elections might also include other stated partisan political proposals like requiring proof of citizenship to vote and giving the attorney general, rather than local district attorneys, authority to prosecute election crimes.

Of course, there are legitimate issues of election interference that could be explored, including issues surrounding “dark money” online political advertising,  the improper use of artificial intelligence (AI), online harassment of election officials, as well as the threat of disinformation, misinformation and “deep fakes” in our elections.

Click here to view the full Senate Interim Charges.

We should all be alert to opportunities for input to contest “big lie” election conspiracy theories that may be pursued by members of the Senate Committee and to promote legitimate proposals to assure the protection of our existing secure, free and fair elections.

Cody Meador

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