SAN ANTONIO - The mid-term elections are behind us, but the battle continues over election integrity. A flurry of new bills has been filed for January’s legislative session giving the state more power to investigate election irregularities.
Some of those measures allow the state to bypass local officials. One even gives the state the power to remove the local district attorney if he or she won't investigate a complaint.
In Harris County voters were outraged by delays at more than 20 polling sites that ran out of ballot paper. In Bexar County, dozens of voters have sued claiming voting machines are not properly certified.
“As a citizen we want to make sure that our vote is cast and counted as it was intended to by us," said Jarrett Woodward, one of the people suing over the machines.
State Senator Paul Bettencourt of Harris County has filed Senate Bill 220 which would create Department of Public Safety Election Marshals who could quickly be sent to investigate alleged election violations.
The bill would also appoint emergency judges to hear cases within hours.
“I won't tell you how many times the public has stopped me in the last month saying, 'does my vote count anymore? I went to a poll, there wasn't any ballot paper', and they're right they shouldn't put up with it," Bettencourt said.
Two other bills would allow the Texas Attorney General to bypass local prosecutors and investigate election fraud.
House Bill 689 would allow the AG to appoint a special prosecutor from another county. House Bill 125 would give the AG the ability to fine or remove a local district attorney who blocks or limits an election fraud investigation.
“We have DA's, not just on this topic but on many others, they're choosing which laws to enforce," said State Representative Bryan Slaton who authored House Bill 125.
Last year a court ruled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton could not unilaterally prosecute voter fraud.
At the time Paxton blasted the decision: "Thanks to the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals, Soros-funded district attorneys will have sole power to decide whether election fraud has occurred in Texas."
Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales, who has received almost two million dollars in contributions from Democrat mega donor George Soros, told News 4 in a statement: "Election integrity is vital for democracy. If a law enforcement agency should submit any case, including for election-related offenses, my office will review it to determine if it is a case we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt."
Jarrett Woodward, one of the plaintiffs suing over Bexar County election machines, doesn't support any of the new bills.
“I'm really against the legislature taking that route, I think they would be overstepping into the local community's duties."