TYLER, Texas (KETK) — The Texas Senate voted 19-12 to send Senate Bill 2 to the House of Representatives, making illegal voting a felony on Tuesday. Senator Bryan Hughes, of East Texas, authored the bill after an amendment in 2021’s Senate Bill 1 lowered the felony to a Class A misdemeanor.

“This type of voter fraud this bill is targeting is exceedingly rare. It hardly ever happens, “said Katie Owens with voter services at The League of Women Voters in Tyler.

Texas Senator Bryan Hughes, who authored the bill, said that the last session wasn’t debated, overlooked and needed attention.

“To lower the penalty of an offense sends the message that this offense is less serious and we do not want to send that message,” said Hughes.

Owens believes that raising the penalty will only discourage voters.

“Having these harsh penalties can actually deter people who are eligible for voting from showing up to vote, just from fear that they might be punished for something they thought they could do,” said Owens.

Hughes said this piece of legislation is only for those who know they are voting illegally.

“It actually lowers the standard for prosecutors to prove intention,” said Owens.

Owen said a better way to achieve the same goal is to educate voters and it that is important to start with high school students.

“Making sure that people know what they have to do to register to vote and who is eligible to vote actually decreases those levels of voter fraud,” said Owens.

Hughes said there are plenty of bills like SB 2 in the House and it is a matter of which one will be voted on first.