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Online Voter registration in up

A bill to bring online voter registration to Texas is dead thanks to a small but vocal group of officials from the state's largest county, according to the measure's sponsor, state Rep. Celia Israel. But Israel, whose legislation had the backing of a majority of the Texas House, says she's not giving up.

At a Monday meeting of the House Elections Committee, dozens of people signed up in favor of HB-76, four of whom spoke. However, testimony from a handful of people from Harris County seemed to convince some members of the committee that Texas is not ready for online voter registration, Israel said.

"There were just too many folks out there who would rather believe a partisan official from Harris County as opposed to a nonpartisan state employee who tells you, 'We could do this, '" Israel said, referring to a number of experts the panel called on to ask about the state's capacity for online voter registration.

Under HB-76, Texans with a valid driver's license or state-issued identification card could enter their information online and submit it to sign up to vote. The Department of Public Safety would then match the information with what it has on record for the person.

Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Mike Sullivan was among those who testified against the bill, saying the current system of voter registration works well and does not need changing. Sullivan, who serves as the county's voter registrar, also raised concerns about potential discrepancies in the data that could undermine the voter roll.

Others who spoke against the legislation questioned the security of state software and suggested online sign-up could provide a new opening for voter fraud.

On Saturday, Sullivan denied there was anything political about his testimony. He also brushed off the idea that the bill's opponents from Harris County were coordinating.

"I’ve been in politics a long time, " said Sullivan, a Republican. "When you lose an argument, you sometimes go straight to partisan politics as the reason you lost."

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