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  By: Bettencourt  S.B. No. 220
         (In the Senate - Filed November 14, 2022; February 15, 2023,
  read first time and referred to Committee on State Affairs;
  April 6, 2023, reported adversely, with favorable Committee
  Substitute by the following vote:  Yeas 8, Nays 2; April 6, 2023, sent
  to printer.)
 
  COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE FOR S.B. No. 220 By:  Hughes
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
 
  relating to the enforcement of laws relating to elections.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Sections 31.005(a) and (b), Election Code, are
  amended to read as follows:
         (a)  The secretary of state may take appropriate action to
  protect against violations of this code and to protect the voting
  rights of the citizens of this state from abuse by the authorities
  administering the state's electoral processes.
         (b)  The secretary of state may order a person performing
  official functions in the administration of any part of the
  electoral processes to correct offending conduct if the secretary
  determines that the person is exercising the powers vested in that
  person in a manner that:
               (1)  impedes the free exercise of a citizen's voting
  rights; [or]
               (2)  unless acting under an order of a court of
  competent jurisdiction, delays or cancels an election that the
  person does not have specific statutory authority to delay or
  cancel; or
               (3)  otherwise violates a provision of this code.
         SECTION 2.  The heading to Chapter 34, Election Code, is
  amended to read as follows:
  CHAPTER 34. STATE INSPECTORS AND ELECTION MARSHALS
         SECTION 3.  Chapter 34, Election Code, is amended by adding
  Sections 34.006 and 34.007 to read as follows:
         Sec. 34.006.  ELECTION MARSHALS. (a)  The secretary of state
  shall appoint a state election marshal. The state election marshal
  reports to the secretary of state.
         (b)  The state election marshal shall appoint election
  marshals for each Department of Public Safety region such that
  there is one election marshal for each 1,000,000 people who reside
  in the region.  Appointments must be made not later than the 60th
  day before the date early voting is scheduled to begin in an
  election held on a uniform election date in November or a primary
  election.  An appointment made under this section is in effect for
  90 days, and may be extended by the state election marshal if the
  election marshal is conducting an investigation.
         (c)  The state election marshal shall designate an election
  marshal in each Department of Public Safety region as the chief
  election marshal for the region. The chief election marshal for a
  region shall assign election marshals to each alleged violation of
  this code occurring in the region as described by Section 34.007.
         (d)  To be qualified as a state election marshal or an
  election marshal, a person must:
               (1)  be licensed as a peace officer by the Texas
  Commission on Law Enforcement;
               (2)  be commissioned by the Department of Public
  Safety; and
               (3)  have received training in election law from the
  secretary of state.
         (e)  An election marshal has the powers and duties of a state
  inspector under this chapter and other powers and duties as
  assigned by law.
         (f)  The name, county of residence, and contact information
  for the purpose of official business of each election marshal and
  the state election marshal are public information.
         Sec. 34.007.  INVESTIGATION BY STATE INSPECTORS AND ELECTION
  MARSHALS. (a)  In this section:
               (1)  "Chief election marshal" means the election
  marshal appointed by the secretary of state for a Department of
  Public Safety region.
               (2)  "Election marshal" means an election marshal
  appointed under Section 34.006.
               (3)  "State inspector" means a state inspector
  appointed under this chapter.
         (b)  A state inspector or election marshal shall promptly
  investigate an alleged violation of this code that is:
               (1)  supported by an affidavit or unsworn declaration;
  and
               (2)  submitted to the state inspector or chief election
  marshal, and if submitted to the chief election marshal, assigned
  to the election marshal.
         (c)  If an election marshal investigates an alleged
  violation of this code and finds probable cause exists that a
  violation of this code is occurring or is likely to occur, the
  election marshal:
               (1)  shall exercise all lawful means to prevent the
  violation from continuing or occurring;
               (2)  may seek such orders, processes, or warrants from
  a court that the election marshal finds necessary to prevent the
  violation from continuing or occurring; and
               (3)  may also file appropriate criminal charges.
         (d)  Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to affect
  the right of a candidate or political party to file a civil action
  under other law.
         SECTION 4.  Section 273.001(a), Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (a)  If two or more registered voters of the territory
  covered by an election or an election marshal assigned to the
  Department of Public Safety region that includes the territory
  covered by an election presents [present] affidavits alleging
  criminal conduct in connection with the election to the county or
  district attorney having jurisdiction in that territory, the county
  or district attorney shall investigate the allegations.  [If the
  election covers territory in more than one county, the voters may
  present the affidavits to the attorney general, and the attorney
  general shall investigate the allegations.]
         SECTION 5.  The heading to Section 273.003, Election Code,
  is amended to read as follows:
         Sec. 273.003.  IMPOUNDING ELECTION RECORDS AND EQUIPMENT.
         SECTION 6.  Section 273.003(a), Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         (a)  In the investigation of an election, a county or
  district attorney, [or] the attorney general, the secretary of
  state, or an election marshal may have impounded for the
  investigation the election returns, voted ballots, signature
  roster, and other election records or equipment.
         SECTION 7.  The heading of Subchapter E, Chapter 273,
  Election Code, is amended to read as follows:
  SUBCHAPTER E. INJUNCTIVE RELIEF AND EMERGENCY REVIEW [INJUNCTION]
         SECTION 8.  Section 273.081, Election Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 273.081.  INJUNCTION.  (a) A person, including a
  candidate, a political party, or a state, county, or precinct chair
  of a political party, who is being harmed or is in danger of being
  harmed by a violation or threatened violation of this code is
  entitled to appropriate injunctive relief to prevent the violation
  from continuing or occurring and may bring an action to obtain
  injunctive relief to prevent the violation from continuing or
  occurring.
         (b)  In connection with an action for injunctive relief filed
  under Subsection (a), a court may issue subpoenas of persons or
  property and order the inspection or impoundment of election
  records or equipment.
         SECTION 9.  Subchapter E, Chapter 273, Election Code, is
  amended by adding Sections 273.082 and 273.083 to read as follows:
         Sec. 273.082.  DISQUALIFICATION OF JUDGE. (a) The judge of
  a district or county court with jurisdiction over any geographic
  area served by an election official who is a party in a proceeding
  for injunctive relief under this subchapter is disqualified to
  preside over the proceeding, unless the election official serves
  statewide.
         (b)  If a petition is filed in a proceeding in which a judge
  may be disqualified under Subsection (a), the clerk of the court
  shall promptly call the filing to the attention of the judge.  If
  the judge determines that the judge is disqualified under
  Subsection (a), the judge shall promptly request the presiding
  judge of the administrative judicial region to assign an alternate
  judge to preside over the proceeding.
         (c)  A judge who resides in the geographic area served by the
  election official who is a party under Subsection (a) is not
  eligible for assignment as an alternate judge for the proceeding.
         (d)  In a proceeding in which a judge is disqualified under
  Subsection (a), until an alternate judge is assigned to preside
  over the proceeding, the presiding judge of the administrative
  judicial region may take any action in the proceeding otherwise
  authorized by law, including the issuance of temporary relief.
         Sec. 273.083.  EMERGENCY REVIEW OF ELECTION ACTIVITY. (a)
  Not later than the 60th day before the date of a regular or special
  election, the presiding judge of each administrative judicial
  region shall appoint a sufficient number of visiting judges to
  serve as emergency election review judges to preside in actions
  under this section, in accordance with Chapter 74, Government Code.
         (b)  A judge appointed to serve as an emergency election
  review judge shall receive training as specified by the secretary
  of state at least once a year.
         (c)  An action filed by a candidate in an election or a
  political party or state, county, or precinct chair of a political
  party that has a candidate in an election that alleges a violation
  of this code in that election and requests emergency injunctive
  relief to prevent the alleged violation from continuing or
  occurring shall be assigned to an emergency election review judge.
  An action under this section arising in the district or county in
  which the court served by an active judge appointed as an emergency
  election review judge has jurisdiction may not be assigned to that
  judge.
         (d)  A request for hearing in an action heard by an emergency
  election review judge shall be delivered to the assigned judge who
  shall promptly conduct a hearing, by electronic means or otherwise,
  to begin no later than:
               (1)  three hours after the judge receives a written
  hearing request filed not earlier than the 45th day before the date
  of the election and not later than the last day of in-person early
  voting; or
               (2)  one hour after the judge receives a written
  hearing request filed not earlier than the last day of in-person
  early voting and not later than the final canvass of an election.
         (e)  A hearing conducted by an emergency election review
  judge shall be recorded or transcribed and is subject to appellate
  review.
         SECTION 10.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2023.
 
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