Elections prosecution proposal is approved
In a party-line vote, a Senate committee Tuesday approved a proposal that would broaden the statewide prosecutor’s power to investigate alleged election crimes.
The Republican-controlled Senate Fiscal Policy Committee voted 14-6 to approve the bill (SB 4-B), which is part of a special legislative session that started Monday.
The bill is rooted in the high-profile arrests in August of 20 people on allegations that they cast ballots while being ineligible to vote. The Office of Statewide Prosecutor charged the defendants, who were alleged to be ineligible because of previous felony convictions. But judges dismissed three of the cases because they said the statewide prosecutor did not have jurisdiction to bring the charges.
Judges ruled that the alleged crimes each occurred in only one judicial circuit, rather than multiple judicial circuits as required by a law about the statewide prosecutor’s jurisdiction, according to a House staff analysis.
The Senate bill and an identical House bill (HB 3B) would make changes to the law, including allowing the statewide prosecutor to investigate election cases that have “affected” two or more judicial circuits, an easier requirement to meet than the current standard.
The Senate bill is ready to go to the full Senate today, while the House version is slated to be heard in the House Judiciary Committee.