Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) and state Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) have urged the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to reverse its ruling that Paxton cannot unilaterally prosecute voter fraud.
Both Abbott and Patrick issued separate statements on Tuesday criticizing the court for undermining their push for “election integrity,” a move that critics have called voter suppression for minorities who tend to vote Democratic, according to The Dallas Morning News.
“Texas passed the nation’s strongest election-integrity law to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat, cracking down on voter fraud,” Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze said in a statement, the Morning News reported.
Eze added that the attorney general is “Texas’ highest law enforcement officer [and] has constitutional authority to enforce that election-integrity law.”
In his statement, Patrick added that “we need checks at the state level to ensure that our elections are fair,” arguing that the court was neglecting 70 years of legal precedent.
”If the court’s decision stands, certain rogue county and district attorneys will be allowed to turn a blind eye to election fraud, and they will have the final say on whether election fraud is prosecuted at all. To me, this is completely unacceptable,” Patrick’s statement also said.
The statements come after an 8-1 ruling in December in which the court dismissed campaign finance violation charges against Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens and ruled that the attorney general could not directly prosecute most instances of voter fraud.
Paxton has called that ruling “devastating,” and on Jan. 3, he appealed the decision, the Morning News added.
Over two dozen state and federal lawmakers from Texas have signed amicus briefs supporting Paxton’s request to rehear the case, the Morning News also noted.
The Hill has reached out to Abbott for comment.