tv Public Affairs Events CSPAN August 31, 2021 10:09am-11:31am EDT
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radio app. >> c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we're funded by these television companies and more. including midco. ♪ >> midco supports c-span as a public service among with these other television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> the texas house of representatives debated voting laws proposed in the state and in this portion of the debate, the state representative andrew mur who wrote the legislation responded to lawmakers about the impacts of the bill including impact on voting hours and
drive-up voting access and mail-in voting. the texas house of representatives passed the voting laws a.d. to 41. # >> members, before we begin consideration of today's calendar, i want to remind you of house rules governing decorum and debate which should be strictly enforced. as a reminder our house rules were adopted unanimously in january. while you may have strong opinions of the debate today, all rules require we conduct ourselves in a civil manner and treat our colleagues with respect. rehashings in the front and back must avoid personalities and must relate to the wilkes amendment, or motion currently under consideration. parliamentary inquiries must relate to the business currently laid before the house. parliamentary inquiries
hypothetical in nature or in the form of general questions about house rules or committee procedure will be declined. and i remind rules also want to say the gallery will be cleared if there are any services that interrupt today's proceedings. members, thank you for being here today and remaining mindful of the rules you adopted unanimously. members about to begin the day's calendar.
>> the chair lays out the second reading sjr-2, the clerk will read the solution. >> proposing constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for reduction in the amount of limitations, the amount of texans that may be imposed on elementary and public school purpose of the residents of the homestead of a person elderly or disability and reflect any statutory production in the proceedings in the maximum impressed amount of the reduction. >> the chair recognizes mr. meyers. >> i move to postpone sjr-2 until 3:00 p.m. today. >> mr. turner, for what purpose?
>> will the gentleman yield for a question? >> the gentleman will yield for a question. >> yes, i'll yield for a question. thank you, chairman meyer. why are you moving to postpone sj-2. >> i'd like to have it considered after sv-1. >> why is that? >> i'm the bill's sponsor and that is my choice. >> technically bobby's choice, though, correct? >> fair, but my motion. >> understood. in the house rules don't sjr's and sjr's aren't they required to be placed on the calendar before senate bills or house bills? >> that is my understanding, mr. >> you want to deviate from the normal order of the calendars to postseason sjr-2 in order to take up sb-1 first, is that right? >> i believe you've been in this body a little longer than i and i've seen motions to postpone
every session and had is no different. >> no particular reason? >> i provided you my reason. >> thank you. mr. speaker? >> mr. turner, for what purpose? >> i object to the motion and request a record vote. >> understood. the motion and request a record >> mr. meyer moves to postpone sjr-2 until 3:00 p.m. a recorded vote has been requested on mr. turner. the clerk will ring the bell. [bell rings] >> have all members voted? 38 yeast and 26 nays, the motion to postpone prevails. postponeprevails.
>> the chair is reading sb-1, the clerk will read the bill. >> relating to election, integrity and security including preventing fraud in the conduct of elections in this state, increasing criminal penalties and creating criminal offenses and providing civil penalties. >> the chair recognizes mr. mur to explain the bill. >> thank you, mr. speaker, members. it's a privilege to be able to be in front of all of you today. i want to give you a brief perspective of some of the history of election law in texas. simply to provide this in context. so in 1975, texas passed mail-in voter registration. in 1987, texas was one of the first states to implement early voting, which allows voters to vote in advance of election day
at elections -- at locations other than the precinct polling place. place. before 1987, texans only before 1987 texans only voted on election day. in 1991, two years before congress passed the national voter registration act, texas passed its own motor voter law requiring the voter registration be offered at d.m.v. sites. 199t voting machines be accessible and vote. the point that i make to you that texas has resued its policy over time patrioticking changes and updates as needed. s.b.1 cons this process.
>> and importantly by noted previously in the first importantly as noted previously by the first and second called session during committee hearings, it contains language offered by both republicans and democrats, both senators and representatives during that process. it demonstrates that all viewpoints have been and are being considered regardless of party affiliation in an effort to draft sound and thoughtful election policy. draft policy. before i yield for any before i yield for questions, i'll highlight on page 2 the expressed legislative intent that we have in the bill. it is the intent of the legislature the application of this code and the contact of elections be uniform and
consistent throughout this state to reduce the likelihood of fraud and conduct of elections and protect the secrecy of the ballot and promote voter access and ensure all legally cast ballots are counted so that texans can remain confident and a reliable election system. confident. i have heard from from rl many over the sessions. i respect every person and every group's perspective and some of the thoughts and concerns have been and to keep it suck interest this is serious legislation and i look to dating my amendments. and i believe there are some questions. >> for what purpose? >> the gentleman yield for
questions? >> yes, i believe that point was made by so witnesses. >> and after those points were made, do you recall me asking those individuals to apply that standard to after these points were made with, do you remember applying that standard to the counties in the state of texas where before did not have 24-hour voting and essentially votes most of the time will have 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. voting. >> yes, and i think the point was made by members like yourself as well as resource witness for the texas secretary of state that pointed out that in texas the concept of a 24-hour voting period was not necessarily applied to many jurisdictions at all and fairly
a novel idea. with respect to this idea of not having 24 hours of voting in a day is voter suppression, they refuse to apply that to the 5400 counties in the state of texas, did they also refuse to apply that standard to different states in the united states. >> i believe there was testimony what other states do and was not advised to the status of other states and the applicability of any 24-hour voting period. >> i am and i can tell you that there are few if any other states that have 24-hour voting and there are some states that have no early voting and yet they arefuse to apply that same standard. is it true your piece of legislation on pages 7, 8, and 9 as we've discussed provide 16 hours of voting from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.?
>> yes, you will characterize it as providing flexibility for the local jurisdiction to identify appropriate hours with a start time and a stop time. a start time being 6:00 a.m. and an ending time being 10:00 p.m. at night during weekday early voting dates. >> and if you do the math of the early voting days as well as election day is it not 170 hours of available voting? >> representative shaheen, i'm an aggie and can only count to my fingers and toes and i defer to you the math but that sounds accurate. >> there was discussion with respect to poll watchers. does the legislation not on page 11 allowing an election judge to call law enforcement at the request -- at their request of a poll watcher be removed if a poll watcher is disrupting the peace or violating any type of statute? mr. murr: that is correct,
representative shaheen and in addition, there's not a restriction for law enforcement to be contacted with those scenarios to exist even today. mr. shaheen: with respect to poll watchers and concern of them interrupting the process is it true on page 12 poll watchers must take an oath not to disrupt the poll process or harass voters? mr. murr: the legislation describes a express oath that a poll watcher must take as part of the process of being a poll watcher and being appointed by an appointing authority to represent them essentially as their eyes and ears at a voting location. eyes and years. >> and didn't you point out during this topic that current strawt forbids a poll watcher going through the process? >> current law and this was
brought up several times during key discussion and listening to and section 33.0757 prohibits a poll watcher from being present or is being assisted by the voters eve choice and section 33.758 of current law and election officer and prohibits them from communicating with them. >> so let's talk about the actual process for mail-in ballots. there is a lot of discussion on that topic. can you give us the changes that that were made with respect to the mail-in ballots?
>> presently in the state of texas, texas requires that you provide some form of i had nicks and we heard discussion about what that is and that includes a texas drivers' license or the last four digits of your social security number. this legislation applies those requirements to the process of mail-in ballots. if you apply to vote by mail, you are required to identify part of that as part of that process. >> you are saying for mail-in ballots, driver's license. >> or a statement that thech been not issued a number. they can provide a personal
personal identification card and that will have a number on it as well. >> if they don't have a driver's license and they can make a statement as such? >> that is correct and that is krurnt law and that are legislation would provide the same for voting by mail. that is not available. texas law has eligibility requirements. >> can you. >> you must have be 65 years or older and be out of the county and/or be confined in jail. >> are there certain cases where a individual can use an expired
driver's license. >> that is correct. >> in summary, because we have heard from texas democrats in ddz this bill may be harder to go through the process but they need to provide a driver's license number or social security number, or in circumstances they could use an expired driver's license. >> that is correct and you heard from hundreds of witnesses and we have seen come out of the senate, there is current language to correct a defect that contains in the bill that is before us and i will speak to that with the perfecting
amendment as well. >> and they have the opportunity to correct dwe effects? >> if they send in a mail-in ballot and so it can be considered, the early voting clerk can contact them and let them know they can come in and correct or cancel the clelings. so the point made here is -- and also with the perfecting amendment, if someone had an error, we want the vote validly countied and correct. >> so someone can make a correction? >> as long it has been sufficient time to do so.
>> there are a lot of provisions to make it easier to vote drary to what we have heard. and ak can you sayings, but are there are portions of this legislation that are written by both parties? >> scergs that has been given. and you will see some of those in the language that is contained before the body today. and that kaints proposed amendments that were adopted by republicans and democrats in the course of dusting bills. >> there are false ak can youization bodies.
have you had an open goor? >> i have indicated to to my colleagues that my door is open and available and i'm happy too listen to their concerns and try to answer their concerns or any group that they may have. >> there was language, disormer language according to the bad will box that was removed? >> there was discussion on a similar piece of legislation that it contained a limb registration. and so the girl following his amendment has been incorporated into what we have to today.
>> is an difficult to ineffect the right to vote? >> and that is contained in the senate bill before us today. >> that was an amendment by mr. beusy? >> that is my recollection as well. >> and what we were talking about some of the provisions, was that? >> as identified earlier, we worked hard to pay attention to good ideas regardless of where think originated from and those identified came to the top and the come ponts were in place. >> was there also an amendment from mr. turner who herm
requires them if they move to another correct? >> yes, that is correct. >> multiple amendments to this bill including and a cuesed us of racism and you have amendments from several of those individuals, a lot of their language is that correct? >> you mentioned amendments, there are four amendments and these are on pass legislation that we used as a basis to craft the discussion. >> they want to see the bipartisan process and go to the author or go to the floor and offer an amendment. that process was represented,
correct? >> that is correct. >> what about the idea there was a change recommended and got into a piece of legislation that extended protections afforded to workers for workers to take off work without retaliation from any relanes. >> current section law provides for an employee to take off from work on an date. and in the regular station is incleuted in the and provide protection. so no honger, if it is passed and they employ would have those
and take off work and go vote. >> based on the provisions i tawctd about and came from the democratic party, how us this bill suppressing the vote? >> i do not believe it suppresses votes. >> i know it has been a challenging time for you and all of us and i appreciate the work you have done, the respect and i will be voting on this bill and i would never spriet my own built. and quiem looking for all your work and you have done a stall ar job. >> the gentleman's time has
expired. are. >> everyone is reminded to be civil and respectful as we debate. the chair would appreciate members not using the word racism this afternoon. mr. turner has extended the gentleman's time. mr. turner,. >> thank you i have several questions, your bill includes the work fraud and in the cap
shops and legislative finingers and how many stances of election frawed occurred in the state of texas? >> i don't have that information but there are research citizens with the secretary of state during the hearing that may have been asking questions. it is for-looking and when we talk about fraud, it has to deal with the likelihood of fraud. >> you aren't able too identify how many instance is of fraught occurred in 2020? >> no, i don't. >> the director of the tech of state and infer testimony during
the regular session, texas had an opportunity that was smooth? do you agree with that? >> question. >> now, let me go to fraud, have you of the fraud if he canstation efforts? >> only what i heard burying the comety. >> you fnght met with the general about those findings? >> no, i have not. only in response to specific questions i have asked. but i have to process of that. >> are you aware that
22,007 hours on so-called voter fraud investigation efforts? >> i may have observed that article but i will take your word for it. >> they did not bring any data to you with respect to the investigation? >> not to my knowledge, no. >> were you aware that increased the number of voter integrity unit 217? -- to 17, nearly doubling the size, were you aware that? >> i was aware that during the committee hearing process. yes. >> do you know how many prosecutions were a result of all of that extra staff hours? >> i believe that arose during the committee hearing process, i
do not have that in front of me. >> it was a total of four prosecutions to date. >> i would not disagree with you. >> is it correct that they looked at instances of so-called fraud, they in fact found 16 total instances. not prosecutions, just instances of fraud. each having to do with a voter listing an incorrect address on a phone registration form. is that accurate? >> i do not recall that specificity. there was some discussion about the number of individuals versus the number of counts raised against them in various cases. i will have to take your word for it. >> with respect to your bill, did you wore the committee at
any point to any sort of impact analysis, specifically a racial impact analysis on how this bill could impact voters of color, specifically, african-american and hispanic voters. >> no, sir. i was asked that repeatedly during the committee by committee members, my answer remains the same, no. >> why was no study conducted? >> i don't know a study is required but i am not aware of any disproportionate impact studies that are currently in existence. although i have employed my fellow members to share any information they may have. >> you did not make any attempt to initiate such a study to ensure it would not be a disparate impact? >> i did not make an attempt, no sir. >> in the regular session, you
will recall there was a lot of discussions about the conference committee report on senate bill 7, some specific provisions that were added into the bill in the conference committee report. specifically, a provision related to overturning collections, another provision that limited funding and voting hours, widely seen as an attempt to target programs that churches run. >> i recall the discussion, and i recall hearing about those provisions. >> are those provisions in this bill? >> no, sir. if i may expand upon that, there are prescribed start and end times during sunday's that you will find in this bill, but i understand no one has raised any objection that would impact souls to the polls.
in addition to that, specific language about the judicial overturning of elections without considering or determining how individual voters voted is not contained the legislation before the body. >> back to those provisions, have reestablished where those provisions came from? i asked that because i never heard a definitive answer where those provisions came from. at a press conference on july 21, the lieutenant governor said the senate did not put that in there. do we never were those originated from? >> i do not, chairman turner, i was not part of that process. i was not part of the committee at that time. i have no background knowledge. >> the reason i ask, it remains a concern to a lot of people how those provisions got in to begin
with, especially since no one has claimed any ownership. my question is how can the body. assured that they were not authored or constructed by folks who put in those provisions no one is going to claim credit for? >> i think the body could pass a good piece of legislation in the senate concur with it. chair turner: we don't know for sure, whoever put in the provisions related souls to the polls, we don't know for sure those people were not involved in writing the senate bill. >> i played a role in drafting senate bill one, and i can tell you those provisions are not contained in this document. i have no desire for those provisions to be contained in this document.
you ask how can we have assurance they won't show up later, once wrong way to do that is for us to not have a conference committee. we passed quality legislation off the house floor, it goes to the other chamber, they could concur. that is one method. chair turner: my concern right now is simply, if those provisions were written by folks who had a hand in writing this bill we have before us today, my question is, at some point -- sounds like we don't have the answer. rep. murr: if i may interrupt. i am now part of this process as the sponsor. i was not part of the process previously. i have no interest in seeing those provisions show up in any
bill. chair turner: with that undermine the integrity of this bill? rep. murr: i'm not advise, mr. turner whether that would. i can tell you based on this bill, my experience in being the sponsor, i am confident we are not going to have those provisions in this bill. >> will the gentleman yield for if you questions? >> i will happily yield for questions. >> just to follow up on that point, we have seen amendments that would counter that and what effect hours. can we take from your dialogue you will oppose any amendment that will restrict hours of
souls to the polls? rep. murr: that provide background context? in the legislation you have today, it expands the hours from five hours to a minimum of six hours on sunday. there is a sunday in between two weeks of early voting, if it's a start time of not :00 a.m. and end time of 10:00 p.m. for the local jurisdiction to determine those hours. >> i want to make sure you will oppose any amendment that would raise the start time, sunday. rep. murr: i believe a start time of 9:00 a.m. and end time of 10:00 p.m. with flexibility and local jurisdictions is the best policy for us to consider. >> let me ask a couple of quick questions. under current law, local counties get to decide voting hours during early voting.
are there any restrictions under current law? rep. murr: under current law, for many counties, a minimum of at least eight hours needs to be made available. there is not an expressed prohibition against more than eight hours. >> counties can set their own hours as they choose. rep. murr: it guarantees additional hours that will be available with minimum hours. >> i'm talking about maximum hours. a county could have voting up to 24 hours in the early voting period. what are the parameters in this bill during early voting? rep. murr: you have several points, let me try to address one. you mentioned about the 24
hours. as a member of the committee that her does legislation both during the first and second session, you heard resource witnesses from the texas secretary of state explained the concept of 24 hour voting for more than eight hours minimally required under current statute was a novel idea that was supplied by a jurisdiction during the 2020 pandemic, but has not happened across the state. >> it is allowed under current law to do so. rep. murr: it is not prohibited under current law. >> we have people access to 24 hour voting in this bill will do what for those hours. rep. murr: this bill prescribes a start time and end time during the early voting period which is two weeks and the weekends in between. >> we have all heard celebration about early voting.
my point in these questions is, under this bill, the maximum amount of time allowed is 16 hours in a day for early voting. rep. murr: that is correct. >> current law allows up to 24. we are regressing access by one third of the early voting period. as i have heard our colleagues celebrate, it should be noted this bill will take away one third of that early voting period. one other question. one of the goals you set out his uniform and consistent across the state. what are the minimum voting hours in the state under this bill. rep. murr: the minimum voting hours based in here would be a minimum of nine hours with a window at 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on workdays, on saturdays from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and on sundays from 9:00 a.m. from 10:00 p.m. with minimum hours of five hours. >> is that true for all
counties? rep. murr: no, current law prescribes a breakdown based on the population size of counties, and further when jurisdictions have less than 1000 registered voters. oftentimes that is based on availability of poll workers, many of which are volunteers, candies jurisdiction has some flexibility to design this, because they are as a state -- there are some deference given to local jurisdictions to design that around the needs and wants of local constituents. >> my concern is a bill aimed at uniformity, power rule -- our rural voters are not guaranteed the same access to the ballot box. rep. murr: i disagree with that conclusion. i don't think we have heard witnesses in rural areas say they have a limitation of access to the ballot box, during early voting, weekends, and election day. >> this law as written would
have different minimum hours for our smaller counties, thus not inherently guaranteeing them the same hours of access we give our urban and suburban counties. rep. murr: current law prescribes that in the state of texas. >> you can give smaller counties less access. i'm staying in a bill designed to great uniformity, this is an area we are missing that. rep. murr: i'm sorry. >> if we bring an amendment, would you consider trading the uniformity across the board? rep. murr: i believe the bill tracks the current framework we have put in place. >> thank you. >> mr. speaker. >> for what purpose? >> will the gentleman yield. >> let me start by thanking you for meeting with make. --with me. we met to talk about senate bill
1. when you laid out the bill, one of the purposes that was not in the bill was about increasing access to voting. one of the purposes ought to be to increase voter turnout in texas. are you aware of where texas rent in all 50 states in terms of turnout? rep. murr: no sir, i am not. >> i heard we were 45th out of 50 states. in terms of voter in terms of voter turnout in the last election. it seems one of the purposes ought to be the increased voter turnout. would you agree with me? rep. murr: i would say
inherently in a democracy such as ours, we yearn to have every person that has a constitutional right to vote to exercise that right, yes. rep. dutton: you would not mind if we amended for the purpose, so the purpose actually was -- would envelop that. rep. murr: i can find numerous instances contained that i believe improves voter access -- in the legislative intent we talk about, we also talk about promoting voter access. rep. dutton: what i'm getting at is the purpose of the bill, when you laid it out and talk about the individual things that involve the purpose, that is one of the things excluded. it is not included in the bill. in a democracy, we ought to have everybody voting, certainly if
texas is 43rd in turnout, we have to be thinking about that. would you agree with me? what purpose ought to be such that we get people you have created access to voting, we ought to make sure the purpose at these follows that. rep. murr: i think i understand where you are going with this. i go back to our legislative intent of creating voter access, and i believe multiple provisions do that. just because folks have rights we don't always see them choose them exercise the right. can be frustrating for friends and neighbors because they declined to participate. rep. dutton: we ought to be encouraging, not only the way you get -- we could increase the number of hours without creating
an increase in voter turnout. but i'm getting at is, while we increase access, while we do something about that, what we don't do is in terms of the purpose of increasing the voter turnout in texas. rep. murr: i'm thinking of a phrase my grandmother used to tell me. you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. the concept is the saved. folks have the right to vote does not mean we can force them to vote. rep. dutton: but you can encourage them to drink, you can give them salt. the point my grandfather used to make, too. if the purpose -- if democracy revolves around all of us participating, we should be involved in trying to make sure and ensure people actually
participate in the democracy by increasing the voter turnout. that is all i am suggesting. rep. murr: i hear you, and it is something individually you and i take on that task to encourage our fellow neighbors and friends and family members to participate, but i don't necessarily believe that is the state's responsibility to actively force everyone to go vote. rep. dutton: i don't mean for us, just do something that helps people access their right to vote. volume increase access, but we don't do on the other hand, at least in the purpose of the bill, suggest or encourage people to go out to vote. rep. murr: there is a fine line between the state suggesting, encouraging or forcing. folks individually choosing to do so. that is a choice issue we have, i understand that.
where you are going with it is perhaps, the state becoming somehow to player in requiring or forcing or encouraging folks to go vote versus us having a system in place and folks choosing to participate in that election system. rep. dutton: just in the purpose itself, if we could put in the re, trying to increase the voter turnout, i think is what i'm getting at. rep. murr: i understand. i am happy to have dialogue with you on that, although i'm not necessarily an agreement with you at this moment. >> hold it right there. >> the gentleman, has expired. there is no objection. >> will the gentleman yield for a couple of questions. rep. murr: high yields to gentlelady for questions.
>> you talk about the discussion with rep uc about the intent to allow local control or considerations to help define what the actual hours would be for voting. just want to make sure i heard that right. from a legislative standpoint, we have been usurping local authority. is it your intent in this bill that we would not usurp the local authority, and in fact allow the local elections administrators to define but the hours should be for their particular location? rep. murr: to answer your question, this legislation builds on existing statutes, prescribes a minimum number of hours during the day, during the early voting period in which a local jurisdiction must have
elections available. in addition to that, this bill provides a start time and end time and provides flexibility for the jurisdiction to choose what timeframe works best for the jurisdictions. i think what you are finding is we are building on existing law, and the policy has been to provide some consistency, we understand some flexibility at the local level to figure out which works best for voters who want to show up to vote the availability of coworkers. -- poll workers. rep. davis: i need a yes or no, please. based on your conversation, you said you are building on existing law but you have allowed the local jurisdictions to define what is appropriate for their area.
my question is whether or not it is your intent that this legislation would always allow appropriate hours and processes for your jurisdictions as a relates to early votes. rep. murr: yes. it is my intent for this piece of legislation to allow local jurisdictions to provide for hours within the framework in the proposed bill provided by the legislature. rep. davis: my last question is a follow-up to that, as it relates to this discussion with local jurisdictions, do you envision or see where we might come back as a legislature and attempt to usurp the authority you have given the local jurisdictions. we have had bills like that, i want to make sure it is your intent that will not happen. rep. murr: i can't speak to
future legislators. rep. davis: this session. rep. murr: this legislature, i do not believe there is an attempt to come back, but i will point out that the state of texas constantly reviews the election was it has to determine what works and doesn't work amongst changing dynamics we have. it is always the intent of the legislature. rep. davis: there is no question we have that ability. i want to make sure as we move forward, it is your intent that would not happen in this bill today. rep. murr: it is not my intent. rep. davis: thank you. rep. murr: [indiscernible]
>> [indiscernible] for what purpose? >> with the gentleman yield for questions. rep. murr: high yields for questions. >> just to go back to some of the provisions in the bill, the plain meaning of some of the language on prohibition on drive-thru voting. are you familiar? rep. murr: yes. >> are we prohibiting drive-thru voting in this bill? rep. murr: i hate to ask you a question, but for purposes of the clarification, are you talking about current voting -- >> in the structure part. but we did in harris county, in response to covid to kathy try
to make it simple so folks who had a fear of contracting the virus had an opportunity to use a temporary structure to be able to vote. are you aware of that? rep. murr: i am aware that, there was testimony that spoke to that topic. >> in the bill, it talks about structures, it prohibits temporary structures, is that correct? rep. murr: that is correct. do you have a specific provision you want to point to? rep. walle: i think we are on -- excuse me. on page 20, i think it talks
about section 3.11. 3.12b subject to subsection b, any place served by an early voting clerk be located inside any building and stationary structures. this is a county building, is that my understanding? rep. murr: section 3.11 relates to the clerk's office during early voting. section 3.12 relates to any other voting locations during early voting. the purpose here is to explain voting needs to occur inside the building.
if you go back to the premise or policy behind it, we have heard several folks speak about the constitutional right to vote and how we hold that is very important, protecting the secrecy of your ballot and providing you a place to do that in private is very important. when you locate that process outside of a secure place where it is not necessarily available to you, there is a potential your ability to vote is not in private and may be compromised. that is the purpose. just to clarify, i do want to be with you, this bill explains that the right to vote from your motor vehicle exists under the current rights prescribed for curbside voting. curbside voting is limited to those who are eligible, but it is not provided to all persons. this bill does not expand upon that. rep. walle: i think the effect
with what we did in harris county with this bill. they were allowed to vote in their car conveniently, so they would not contract the virus. part of the impetus for what we did in harris county. we expended curbside voting, allow folks to have an opportunity which initially was subsequently backtracked, to allow folks easier access in a franchise. are you aware of that? rep. murr: i am aware of that.
if you want to talk about curbside voting or the application to vote by mail. i am talking about all of it. rep. walle: what happened in harris county was we did some, your terms, novel ways to access the ballot. in this bill, it prohibits it. that temporarily -- early voting locations not located inside a building. i'm trying to make sure we understand that in the public understands what is going to happen with this bill once citizens lamented. rep. murr: i will clarify this bill provides that a person can vote pursuant to section 64.009.
if they are physically unable to enter. that is what we currently use as curbside voting. it does not touch that, and is protected by federal law. it is not expand upon the ability if you don't meet the criteria. they still need to meet that criteria. rep. walle: i would turn to page 37 of the bill as it relates to unlawful solicitation. in the bill, to say that we are creating a new criminal offense in this section? rep. murr: yes. rep. walle: with that a felony? rep. murr: yes. rep. walle: could you describe
-- in the bill, it talks about public officials. an administrator would be a public official, is that correct? rep. murr: i have a perfecting amendment that brings that term in, because a public official may not necessarily include a nonelective elections administrator. my amendment would include that. assuming the amendment later is considered and adopted, the answer would be yes. this provision would apply to a public official or elections official. rep. walle: with that in mind, without your perfected amendment, the public official, if they choose to solicit an application to vote by mail from any person that did not request,
if they should choose, at their discretion, to send the application to vote by mail, that would be an offense up to eight felony, is that correct? rep. murr: that is correct, the language here expressly states they are not supposed to send it to someone who did not requested. alternatively, the policy go here and i have explained this in committee, our system is designed upon activity by the voter. the voter has to request it. therefore, the voter is watching for what is coming in the mail and paying attention. rep. walle: the voter then now has to -- in this section, we are creating a new criminal penalty for a public official
who sent the application unsolicited to a voter. rep. murr: the policy goal -- texas, the policy is passive. a voter has to request the application to vote by mail. we are not an proactive state policy of distributing to everyone all the time. that is what this is following. rep. walle: could you explain that further, because i'm trying to understand why we would make a policy decision to make it a felony to encourage folks to participate in the franchise, anybody, any texan, whether they are democrat, republican, independent, disabled, why would
we do that? rep. murr: some of the testimony we heard as well as input raised concerns that if a potential voter is not aware of the document headed their way, and i go back to the legislative intent, you have a scenario where you could have the likelihood of fraud because the application has been sent out. they are not aware of it. the zone where you vote, you have paperwork coming and going. at the end of the day, the policy is a passive system. rep. walle: we implying because someone who gets in unsolicited
application, there will be a likelihood of fraud? rep. murr: the purpose is to reduce the likelihood of fraud. what would be the likelihood of fraud? when you go in person, your ballot never leaves the voting location. when you vote by mail, your ballot is an application to vote by mail with confidential information that is going to be returned, then your ballot is going to be sent out in return. because that ballot is unaccompanied compared to a scenario where you go to a polling location, there is a potential, as we have heard input in folks that there could be a likelihood of rod, efforts made to ensure our policy protects against the works to ensure security in the overall
system. what i'm trying to understand, this is the application, mr.. rep. walle: where in the process what a public official -- did we not trust that person? usually that is a career official. to send the application itself to the voter. it's not the ballot itself, it is just the application. where in the process is the likelihood of fraud being committed? rep. murr: i have answered that. unlike voting in person, it includes personal information
and has to do with your ability to exercise your right to vote. it should be initiated by the voter. that is the policy goal. since the inception and up until now, my understanding is i am with you. it is a sacred -- the secrecy, having the opportunity is sacred. rep. walle: it's just as important for somebody who is a senior, maybe a veteran. maybe disabled to have the same opportunity in their homes.
rep. murr: they have the right to receive the application as soon as they request it. rep. walle: on the following page, section 276.017, unlawful distribution of early vote ballots and balloting materials. also making it, the early voting clerk commits an offense if the clerk or official knowingly mails or otherwise provides early voting ballots by mail or other early materials to a person, the clerk or official knows did not submit an application under section 84.001. the section right under that is creating an offense under this
section as a class a misdemeanor. is that your intent in that bill? creating another class a misdemeanor on this offense. rep. murr: yes sir, you have read it correctly, and it creates a new criminal offense. rep. walle: ok. rep. murr: that is of no concern if the early voting clerk or other election official follows the law, and does their job. rep. walle: you created another penalty for an election official who sends out early vote materials. rep. murr: that is correct. rep. walle: thank you. >> mr. speaker, will the gentleman yield for some questions? rep. murr: deals for questions. >> just wanted to run through a
few questions and follow-up with respect to voters in harris county who had used drive-thru vote centers in the 2020 election. do you recall the administrator testified during the committee that approximately 53% of the votes cast at the 10 drive-thru sites available whereby people of color, are you familiar? rep. murr: i was not present during the testimony so i will defer to you. rep. anchia: of the 127,000 voters, republicans and democrats who cast ballots, keeping in mind we were in the middle -- why is that method of
voting -- why does that increase the likelihood of fraud in your view, or does it in your view? rep. murr: in order to answer your question, i will point to some of the testimony we heard from witnesses during the first and second calls, talking about the fact, the sanctity of our ability to go into a private state and poly locations and cast the ballot in private. when you remove yourself from the polling location, and now you're in a more public area, for example in an automobile, perhaps surrounded by other people, your ability to cast your ballot in private is not easy to do. rep. anchia: how many voters complained they were concerned
about the secrecy of their ballot when using this process? rep. murr: i don't have a number in front of me, but we heard some witness testimony that exhibited some concerns. rep. anchia: from the voters themselves? rep. murr: i don't know if they were voters that try to use that process or not. rep. anchia: did the voters complain about secrecy being infringed upon or whether third parties? rep. murr: i am not advised. rep. anchia: you referred to the testimony, you said you did not sit in on. is that right? rep. murr: the regular session i did not participate in, the first call and second call session committee hearings yes, i did participate. rep. anchia: why would we be punishing local elected officials during the deadliest pandemic in 100 years for using these drive-thru vote centers? rep. murr: i do not view it as a punishment.
i believe efforts were made, perhaps with good intentions to skillfully and artfully interpret the election code to try and apply during a pandemic scenario. rep. anchia: you believe it was in good faith to mitigate the spread of a deadly virus? rep. murr: i have never encouraged it was in bad faith. rep. anchia: back to my question, how does that increase the likelihood of fraud, the language used? rep. murr: as i just mentioned, the moment that you have, the activity of voting at side the polling location, the election code spends a great deal of language providing the safety and privacy we all yearn for when making our decisions, that becomes more of an open process if you are -- rep. anchia: you are not aware of any instances where either
secrecy was adversely affected, or a voters that they were worried about the secrecy of their ballot, or in cases of road specifically with this method of voting. rep. murr: i am not advised. rep. anchia: you are unaware. rep. murr: i am unaware. rep. anchia: penalty enhancements are usually designs to achieve a deterrent effect. what are we trying to deter other than local elected officials trying to facilitate, exercise the franchise, while at the same time keeping people safe? what are we trying to deter? rep. murr: you have two parts. the steps they took during the pandemic, for example, were not steps taken statewide in various jurisdictions, we will call them counties. that is one part of your question. i go back to the concept of uniformity and consistency.
as a voter, you prefer to see some standardized or equal treatment of the voting process are ross this jurisdiction, that is a policy decision by the state. rep. anchia: are the counties made equally? population models? rep. murr: never said that they were. not going to say dallas county in harris county and relook counties are people. rep. anchia: you feel that sparsely populated counties that may have 100 people, 300 people -- should be treated the same as a county with 3 million people. rep. murr: they should have an expectation of uniformity. rep. anchia: how does that further -- how does that equal treatment of different circumstances, specially during a pandemic, further the policy goal of reducing the likelihood of fraud?
rep. murr: you asked a broad question. i will go back to consistent application and uniform application of ever election code. rep. anchia: how does the uniformity -- you are making a policy choice. you are saying uniformity is important, despite that counties are different. uniformity is important, and we want to impose that despite difference in counties. how does that achieve the policy end in reducing fraud. rep. murr: reducing the likelihood of fraud is not the only policy goal. rep. anchia: how about that one specifically? rep. murr: i'm going to remind you it contains language regarding the protection of the secrecy of the ballot and promoting voter access to ensure all legally -- rep. anchia: how does it promote voter access? rep. murr: when we talk about voting from vehicles, effort and focus is given to protecting the
secrecy of the ballot. rep. anchia: but you said they were no instances you are aware of of a voter who said the secrecy of their ballot was impacted. you said there may have been third parties who suggested that, but never a voter. rep. murr: i did not say one way or another, i am not aware of that information. rep. anchia: you are unaware. how does manning this -- banning in a terrible pandemic for the likelihood of fraud goal, the access to the ballot goal, or the secrecy of the ballot goal. rep. murr: you say dan, this is an emphasis on current law. prior to the pandemic. everybody's expectation was, the ability to vote curbside, under current law which is protected by federal law, that was expounded upon by interpretations of one or more local jurisdictions. this comes back and explains
that is not how the election code has operated. rep. anchia: where was that interpretation that this activity is prohibited. where is that interpretation? rep. murr: the only place in the election code i am aware of that speaks to the ability to vote from your motor vehicle, expressly, to section 64.009, curbside voting. it actually has a reason you have to exhibit for that, it is not universal in nature. rep. anchia: back to my original question. the policy goals you are trying to achieve our secrecy, reducing the likelihood of fraud, how does this policy decision you're making further those goals? rep. murr: to be clear, can you hone in specifically? rep. anchia: i apologize. what harris county did, with respect to these drive-thru
voting mode you are seeking to prohibit the use of. rep. murr: i will articulate, let me generically refer to that concept as universal voting from your vehicle for purposes, universal curbside voting. rep. anchia: at the very least we could narrow it, during a pandemic. rep. murr: universal curbside voting, i believe we heard testimony, today articulated it protects the secrecy of the ballots. they're not here to let everyone vote from their car when you're perfectly able to go into a secure polling location and vote in the framework we set out for a secure ballot. provided voter access for the folks who have trouble leaving their cars, so we currently have
that framework. if you are going to have folks that utilize some type of universal side voting, the ability to know whether or not that is subject -- we did not hear testimony on that. rep. anchia: is the secrecy of concern with respect to drive-thru voting that is currently permitted under the law? rep. murr: we did not hear witness testimony speak directly to that. typically it was on the topic of universal curbside voting. rep. anchia: you are unaware of any voters concerned about the secrecy of their ballot in the harris county model, universal, you have not heard any concerns about secrecy with respect to traditional drive-thru voting, is that a fair statement? rep. murr: i am not advised. rep. anchia: you talked >> we are leaving this here to
keep our commitment to congressional coverage. the u.s. house gaveling in for a brief session today, no votes scheduled. live now to the floor. [captioning made possible by the national captioning institute, inc., in cooperation with the united states house of representatives. any use of the closed-captioned coverage of the house proceedings for political or commercial purposes is expressly prohibited by the u.s. house of representatives.] the speaker pro tempore: the house will be in order. the chair lays before the house a communication from the speaker. the clerk: the speaker's room, washington, d.c., august 31,