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Texas Bill Would Make it a Felony for a Non-Relative to Deposit More than Two Mail Absentee Ballots in a Postal Pick-up Box

Published on February 26, 2013, by in General.

Texas Representative Cindy Burkett (R-Mesquite) has introduced HB 148, which would make it a felony for anyone to deposit more than two voted mail absentee ballots in a postal pick-up box, unless the person was a relative of the voters whose ballots were being deposited, or unless the person was an employee of a nursing facility. See this story about the bill’s hearing in the House Elections Committee on February 25. The purpose of the bill is to fight individuals who make a living collecting voted absentee mail-in ballots and take them to be mailed. Some of these individuals apparently try to influence the absentee voter to vote a certain way, or try to alter the voter’s voted ballot. But the bill’s solution to that problem seems somewhat attenuated.

According to the article, the committee held the bill but may try to work on some amendments.

5 Responses

  1. Larry Allred

    There are people who collect/mail other peoples voted ballots for a living, and the law is looking to shut them down? Somebody make documentary.

  2. Jim Riley

    #1 Mrs.Smith, I saw that the absentee ballots were being mailed out today, and so I checked your mail box, and you had one.

    I didn’t know that there was an election.

    Remember, I helped you fill out the absentee application last week.

    Oh, well I don’t know who to vote for, and there are all these Chinese characters.

    Well maybe I can help a bit. Do you want to vote for Mr.Jones? You do? OK I marked it for you. You have to but the ballot in this envelope and seal it (demonstrates by putting ballot in envelope and seals it), and you have to sign it right here, I think I might have a pen (checks pockets, and pulls out pen, and hands envelope and pen to voter, who signs).

    Now then, we put the security envelope into the this mailing envelope. Would you like me to mail it for you? OK, well I have to sign it here to show I mailed it for you.

    The person who is helping out is likely just supplementing their income. Texas does not have a state income tax, and there is no federal income tax on unreported income. If a campaign reports the expense at all, it would be “services for absentee outreach and GOTV”. But maybe it was reported as pizza for volunteers, and they tipped the delivery person heavy.

    The campaign never told the helper to fill in ballots or influence voters, just to encourage absentee applications and that the ballots would be returned.

  3. Demo Rep

    The postal snail folks are required to pick up the outgoing mail in each mailbox when they deliver incoming mail.

  4. Richard Winger

    #3, good point, but (I could be wrong) I don’t think the bill covers individual home mailboxes. I think it only covers the general red-white-blue boxes on street corners for anyone to deposit outgoing mail.

  5. Jim Riley

    It was already illegal to possess carrier envelopes of unrelated individuals. If the voter was going to put the envelope in their own mailbox, there wouldn’t really be a “need” for assistance.

    You’re making an assumption that there are blue mailboxes on street corners for anyone to deposit outgoing mail (they tend to get removed when they are used by anyone to deposit anything).

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