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  87R6469 MLH-D
 
  By: Paul H.B. No. 1724
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to service as an election watcher.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Section 33.056(a), Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (a)  Except as provided by Section 33.057, a watcher is
  entitled to observe any activity conducted at the location at which
  the watcher is serving. A watcher is entitled to sit or stand
  [conveniently] near enough to see and hear the election officers
  conducting the observed activity, except as otherwise prohibited by
  this chapter.
         SECTION 2.  Section 33.058, Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 33.058.  RESTRICTIONS ON WATCHER'S ACTIVITIES. (a)
  While on duty, a watcher may not:
               (1)  converse with the presiding judge, the alternate
  judge, or an election clerk [officer] regarding the election,
  except to call attention to an irregularity or violation of law,
  including a procedural mistake that cannot be reversed;
               (2)  converse with a voter; or
               (3)  communicate in any manner with a voter regarding
  the election.
         (b)  A watcher may call the attention of an election officer
  to any occurrence that the watcher believes to be an irregularity or
  violation of law, including a potentially irreversible procedural
  mistake, and may discuss the matter with the officer. An officer may
  refer the watcher to the presiding judge [officer] at any point in
  the discussion. In that case, the watcher may not discuss the
  occurrence further with the subordinate officer unless the
  presiding judge [officer] invites the discussion.
         (c)  If an election clerk disagrees with a watcher concerning
  a matter discussed under Subsection (a)(1), the clerk may not
  proceed until the presiding judge provides clarifying instruction.
  If the presiding judge is unavailable, the alternate judge may
  provide clarifying instruction.
         SECTION 3.  Section 33.061(a), Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (a)  A person commits an offense if the person serves in an
  official capacity at a location at which the presence of watchers is
  authorized and knowingly prevents a watcher from seeing or hearing
  [observing] an activity the watcher is entitled to observe.
         SECTION 4.  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 5.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2021.