The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals should reverse its recent ruling that state Attorney General Ken Paxton can’t prosecute voter fraud unilaterally, top Texas Republicans, including Gov. Greg Abbott, have urged, The Dallas Morning Star reports.
Abbott, as well as Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, issued separate statements in which they criticized the state’s highest criminal court for undermining a major effort last year by their office and the Republican-controlled legislature to ensure "election integrity."
Critics of the move say the changes are actually designed to suppress the votes of minorities, young people, and other groups that tend to vote for Democrats.
At the heart of the issue is whether a constitutional amendment is needed to allow the attorney general to lead a criminal prosecution — which is usually the province of county and district attorneys — or whether the lLegislature passing a law is enough to do so, according to the Morning Star.
"Texas passed the nation’s strongest election-integrity law to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat, cracking down on voter fraud," Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze said in a statement, adding that the attorney general is "Texas’ highest law enforcement officer [and] has constitutional authority to enforce that election-integrity law."
Patrick said in his statement that "we need checks at the state level to ensure that our elections are fair" and it would be "completely unacceptable" to let a particular county attorney or district attorney have the final say on an election-related criminal prosecution," the Morning Star reported.
He warned that "if the court’s decision stands, certain rogue county and district attorneys will be allowed to turn a blind eye to election fraud, and they will have the final say on whether election fraud is prosecuted at all."
In December the court dismissed, by a 8-1 vote, campaign-finance-violation charges against Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens and ruled that the attorney general could not directly prosecute most instances of voter fraud, according to The Hill.
Last week at least 100 Texas Republican legislators and party leaders pressed the court to reverse its decision, The Epoch Times reported.
This included 14 GOP state senators who filed a friend-of-the-court brief.
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