Published 12:04 pm Monday, April 24, 2017

Bill would compel disclosure of certain information under state open records law.

Austin, Texas – Today, the Texas House Committee on Elections will hold a public hearing on HB 3328. The hearing will be held at 2:00 PM or upon final adjournment in E1.026.

The state has a responsibility to educate the public about voter identification requirements under SB 14, the voter ID law passed by the Texas Legislature in 2011. In July 2016, the state was also ordered by a federal court to engage in a $2.5 million voter ID education campaign as part of an interim remedy agreement. Despite evidence that the 2016 voter ID education campaign was not entirely successful, the state has not been forthcoming with details about the plan.

HB 3328 seeks to increase government transparency in the interest of improving voter ID education efforts by making information related to public spending on voter ID education public information subject to disclosure under the Public Information Act. The exceptions described in Sections 552.101 and 552.103 of the Government Code would no longer apply to such information.

State Representative Eddie Rodriguez issued the following statement regarding HB 3328:

“Multiple studies have shown that voter ID laws can confuse voters and discourage people from exercising their voting rights, so it’s important that voter education is done right. However, there is evidence that the court-ordered 2016 voter ID education campaign was ineffective.

“The public has a right to know how millions of taxpayer dollars were spent on the campaign and why it wasn’t successful.

“The Public Information Act should be construed in favor of transparency. The pending litigation exception, for example, should not apply to public spending on voter ID education in 2016, years after SB 14 passed the legislature in 2011.

“I am hopeful that the House Committee on Elections will recognize the importance of effective voter ID education and support HB 3328.”

Dr. Mark Jones, political science fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and research associate at the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs:

“Unless a much more robust and transparent public education campaign is carried out prior to the 2018 election, we will likely continue to see a significant number of registered voters failing to turn out to vote, not due to the lack of an ID in their hand, but rather due to the lack of a correct understanding of the photo ID regulations in their head.

“HB 3328 would provide for a more open and transparent public understanding of how the state expends its resources on voter ID education efforts, allaying any concerns that the funds were not being wisely used in a good faith effort to educate Texas registered voters about the state’s photo ID requirements and the voting process.”