CEDAR PARK, Texas - Keeping Texas elections secure: that's the goal of a new measure lawmakers passed during the special session. But the law has the side effect of repealing a measure meant to make it easier for senior citizens to vote.
“The primary purpose of the bill was to address some of the issues with voting by mail,” said Texas Secretary of State Interim Legal Director Caroline Geppert. "That tends to be the area here in Texas where we see more complaints of possible fraud or alleged fraud."
The new law, passed during the special legislative session, increases fines and penalties for tampering with ballots or voting fraudulently.
"It makes it extremely clear that if you do own someone else's ballot without their permission, that clearly is a criminal offense," Geppert said.
But the measure also will repeal a bill passed during the regular session aimed at helping senior citizens vote. It's a measure that sends county elections officials into assisted living centers.
"There was just some concern about how that would be implemented and how that would be secure," Geppert said.
There were also concerns by local election officials that they wouldn't have enough resources to go into every nursing home that needed the service. So now, the program will end Dec. 1, shortly after going into effect on Sept. 1.
That’s not going over well with some seniors.
"I just feel very, very strongly about voting," said Linda French, who lives at the Sagebrook SN Health Center, an assisted living facility in Cedar Park.
French says she hopes lawmakers will reconsider repealing the measure to make it easier for seniors like her to vote.
"To put it back,” French said. “You know, where we can vote in the assisted living facilities."
Nursing home staff says doing so would be more than just about voting.
"A lot of them have fought for the right to be able to vote,” said Sagebrook SN Health Center Assistant Administrator Marshelda Dozier. “Just based on their sex or their race, they really pushed to be able to vote and exercise their right."