85R12648 GRM-F
 
  By: Fallon H.B. No. 4133
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to investigation and prosecution of certain election
  offenses; creating an offense; increasing criminal penalties.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Section 1.013, Election Code, is amended to read
  as follows:
         Sec. 1.013.  DESTRUCTION OF RECORDS. (a) After expiration of
  the prescribed period for preserving voted ballots, election
  returns, other election records, or other records that are
  preserved under this code, the records may be destroyed or
  otherwise disposed of unless, at the expiration of the preservation
  period, an election contest or a criminal investigation or
  proceeding in connection with an election to which the records
  pertain is pending. In that case, the records shall be preserved
  until the contest, investigation, or proceeding is completed and
  the judgment, if any, becomes final.
         (b)  A person commits an offense if a person intentionally
  destroys or causes the destruction of election records required to
  be preserved under Subsection (a).
         (c)  Except as provided by Subsection (d), an offense under
  Subsection (b) is a Class B misdemeanor.
         (d)  An offense under Subsection (b) in which a person
  destroys or causes destruction of records subject to a preservation
  request from a law enforcement agency is a state jail felony.
         SECTION 2.  Section 1.018, Election Code, is amended to read
  as follows:
         Sec. 1.018.  APPLICABILITY OF PENAL CODE. Titles 1 through 4
  [In addition to Section 1.03, Penal Code, and to other titles of the
  Penal Code that may apply to this code, Title 4], Penal Code, apply
  [applies] to offenses prescribed by this code.
         SECTION 3.  Sections 13.007(a) and (b), Election Code, are
  amended to read as follows:
         (a)  A person commits an offense if the person knowingly
  makes a false statement or requests, commands, or attempts to
  induce another person to make a false statement or causes a false
  statement to be made on a registration application.
         (b)  An offense under this section is a state jail felony
  [Class B misdemeanor].
         SECTION 4.  Subchapter A, Chapter 13, Election Code, is
  amended by adding Section 13.009 to read as follows:
         Sec. 13.009.  MISUSE OF VOTER REGISTRATION INFORMATION. (a)  
  A person commits an offense if the person copies or otherwise
  records voter information obtained from a registration
  application, including two or more of the following pieces of
  information belonging to a voter:
               (1)  an address;
               (2)  a phone number;
               (3)  a date of birth; or
               (4)  any part of a:
                     (A)  social security number; or
                     (B)  driver's license number.
         (b)  A person commits an offense if the person knowingly
  possesses, sells, offers to sell, buys, or offers to buy voter
  information copied from an application described by Subsection (a).
         SECTION 5.  Section 15.028(a), Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (a)  If the registrar determines that a person who is not an
  eligible [a registered] voter voted in an election, or determines
  that voter registration fraud or voting fraud occurred in an
  election, the registrar shall execute and deliver to the attorney
  general, the secretary of state, and the county or district
  attorney having jurisdiction in the territory covered by the
  election an affidavit stating the relevant facts.  Unless
  instructed otherwise by the attorney general or the county or
  district attorney, the registrar shall preserve any election
  records applicable to the offense for at least six months after the
  date required by Section 66.058.
         SECTION 6.  Section 18.068(a), Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (a)  The secretary of state shall quarterly compare the
  information received under Section 16.001 of this code and
  Sections [Section] 62.113 and 62.114, Government Code, to the
  statewide computerized voter registration list. If the secretary
  determines that a voter on the registration list is deceased or has
  been excused or disqualified from jury service because the voter is
  not a citizen or not a resident of the county, the secretary shall
  send notice of the determination to the voter registrar of the
  counties considered appropriate by the secretary and refer the
  matter for criminal investigation under Section 31.006 if records
  indicate that a person may have violated Section 13.007 or 64.012.
         SECTION 7.  Section 64.012, Election Code, is amended by
  amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsections (c), (d), and (e) to
  read as follows:
         (a)  A person commits an offense if the person:
               (1)  votes or attempts to vote in an election in which
  the person knows the person is not eligible to vote;
               (2)  knowingly votes or attempts to vote more than once
  in an election;
               (3)  knowingly [impersonates another person and] votes
  or attempts to vote a ballot belonging to another person, or by
  impersonating another [as the impersonated] person; or
               (4)  knowingly marks or attempts to mark another
  person's ballot without the consent of that person, or without
  specific direction from that person how to mark the ballot.
         (c)  It is sufficient for the purposes of Subsection (a)(1)
  to establish that the person had knowledge of the person's
  ineligibility to vote if the person was aware of the facts or
  circumstances causing the person's ineligibility under this code.
         (d)  It is not a defense to prosecution that the ballot was
  not finally counted.
         (e)  An offense under this section is increased to the next
  higher category of offense if it is shown on the trial of an offense
  under this section that:
               (1)  the defendant was previously convicted of an
  offense under this code;
               (2)  if the defendant is being charged as a party to the
  offense, the offense involves a voter 65 years of age or older; or
               (3)  the defendant committed another offense under this
  section in the same election.
         SECTION 8.  Section 66.058(a), Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (a)  Except as otherwise provided by this code, the precinct
  election records shall be preserved by the authority to whom they
  are distributed:
               (1)  in an election involving a federal office, for at
  least 22 months after election day in accordance with federal law;
  or
               (2)  in an election not involving a federal office, for
  at least 12 [six] months after election day.
         SECTION 9.  Section 162.014(b), Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (b)  An offense under this section is a Class A [Class C]
  misdemeanor.
         SECTION 10.  Section 231.008, Election Code, is amended by
  adding Subsection (f) to read as follows:
         (f)  The clerk shall deliver a copy of the judgment and any
  findings of fact or conclusions of law to the attorney general, and
  upon request from the attorney general, shall deliver copies of any
  portion of the record for use in a criminal investigation.
         SECTION 11.  Section 273.001(e), Election Code, is amended
  to read as follows:
         (e)  Not later than the 30th day after the date on which a
  county or district attorney begins an investigation under this
  section, the county or district attorney shall deliver notice of
  the investigation to the secretary of state and the attorney
  general. The notice must include a statement that a criminal
  investigation is being conducted and the date on which the election
  that is the subject of the investigation was held. The secretary of
  state may disclose information relating to a criminal investigation
  received under this subsection only if the county or district
  attorney or the attorney general has disclosed the information or
  would be required by law to disclose the information.
         SECTION 12.  Subchapter B, Chapter 273, Election Code, is
  amended by adding Section 273.025 to read as follows:
         Sec. 273.025.  LIMITATIONS. (a)  An indictment for or
  information related to a felony or misdemeanor under this code must
  be presented not later than five years after the date of the
  commission of the offense.
         (b)  In an election where an investigation is being conducted
  under this code, the election records must be preserved by the
  election authority until the later of:
               (1)  the time prescribed by this code to preserve the
  records; or
               (2)  the period of limitation prescribed by Subsection
  (a).
         SECTION 13.  Chapter 276, Election Code, is amended by
  adding Sections 276.002 and 276.011 to read as follows:
         Sec. 276.002.  OBSTRUCTION OF ELECTION INVESTIGATION OR
  PROCEEDING. (a) A person commits an offense if the person, with
  intent to influence a witness or prospective witness in an
  investigation or proceeding brought under this code:
               (1)  offers a benefit to or intimidates, harms, or
  threatens to harm a witness or prospective witness;
               (2)  instructs or encourages a witness or prospective
  witness to give a false statement or testimony or withhold or make
  unavailable any testimony, information, or evidence; or
               (3)  instructs or encourages a witness or prospective
  witness:
                     (A)  to elude legal process summoning the witness
  to testify or supply evidence; or
                     (B)  to be absent from a legal proceeding to which
  the witness has been legally summoned.
         (b)  An offense under this section is a felony of the second
  degree.
         Sec. 276.011.  ELECTION FRAUD. (a) A person commits an
  offense if the person knowingly or intentionally makes any effort
  to:
               (1)  influence the independent exercise of a vote in
  the presence of the ballot or during the voting process;
               (2)  cause a voter registration application, ballot, or
  vote to be obtained or cast under false pretenses;
               (3)  cause any false or intentionally misleading
  statement, representation, or information to be provided:
                     (A)  to an election official; or
                     (B)  on an election-related:
                           (i)  form;
                           (ii)  petition;
                           (iii)  statement;
                           (iv)  oath;
                           (v)  affirmation; or
                           (vi)  official document; or
               (4)  subvert the election process in order to obtain a
  benefit or to benefit another person, candidate, or political
  party.
         (b)  An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
         (c)  An offense under this section is increased to the next
  higher category of offense if it is shown on the trial of the
  offense that:
               (1)  the defendant was previously convicted of an
  offense under this code;
               (2)  the offense involved a voter 65 years of age or
  older; or
               (3)  the defendant committed another offense under this
  section in the same election.
         (d)  If conduct that constitutes an offense under this
  section also constitutes an offense under any other law, the actor
  may be prosecuted under this section, the other law, or both.
         SECTION 14.  Sections 13.007(c) and 15.028(b), Election
  Code, are repealed.
         SECTION 15.  The changes in law made by this Act apply only
  to an offense committed on or after the effective date of this Act.
  An offense committed before the effective date of this Act is
  governed by the law in effect on the date the offense was committed,
  and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose. For
  purposes of this section, an offense was committed before the
  effective date of this Act if any element of the offense occurred
  before that date.
         SECTION 16.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2017.