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Thinking about Elections

Good News from Texas
By Juliet Zavon
Posted: 2022-01-20T05:00:00Z

GOOD NEWS. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that the Texas Attorney General can’t  unilaterally prosecute voter fraud. The decision is about jurisdiction over fraud cases, but the implications for voters are broad. 

The Texas Constitution states the attorney general may not initiate a criminal prosecution. Yet the Texas election code gave the attorney general authority to prosecute voter fraud cases. 

The court’s ruling strikes down the election code provision as a violation of the separation of powers between the branches of government. The attorney general is in the executive branch. County prosecutors are part of the judicial branch.

The current attorney general has made voter fraud charges a centerpiece. This ruling could affect on-going cases and his ability to prosecute crimes the state legislature wrote into sweeping new election law this year. For example, the new law made it illegal to hand out mail-ballot applications to people who hadn’t officially requested them. 


Voter fraud is rare not because “Americans don’t do that” but because of controls already in place. These controls and systems came into place in the 1930s and 40s to control the rampant corruption and voter fraud under party bosses that controlled city and state politics. 

The fraud that preceded these systemic controls was jaw-dropping crime. I’ve read old newspaper accounts of masses of (non-existent) voters whose supposed registration home addresses were abandoned buildings and billboards. Ballot boxes were stolen, locks broken. Thousands of voters were disenfranchised because others had already paid the poll tax in their name and voted. (Poll taxes were common.) This was voter fraud on a large systemic scale. That doesn’t happen now because of controls in place.

Just because voter suppression calls itself “fraud control” doesn’t make it so.