Less than a month after signing a bill that would lower the punishment for illegal voting, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott calls for stricter penalties

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greg abbott
In this Wednesday, March 17, 2021, file photo, Texas Gov Greg Abbott speaks during a news conference about migrant children detentions, in Dallas. Associated Press/LM Otero
  • Last month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 1, a controversial voting bill.

  • The bill reduced the penalty for illegal voting from a 2nd-degree felony to a class A misdemeanor.

  • Abbott on Thursday said he wanted to increase the penalty.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called for stricter punishment for illegal voting, less than a month after he signed a bill that lowered the penalty, the Texas Tribune reported.

Abbott on Thursday said he submitted a message to the Secretary of the Senate asking to increase the penalty for illegal voting after it had been reduced in Senate Bill 1.

"The State of Texas has made tremendous progress in upholding the integrity of our elections," Abbott said in a press release. "By increasing penalties for illegal voting, we will send an even clearer message that voter fraud will not be tolerated in Texas."

Abbott signed the controversial voting legislation on September 7. The bill expanded early voting hours for most people and placed new rules on absentee voting. The bill also reduced the penalty for illegal voting from a second-degree felony to a class A misdemeanor.

A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, while a class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine, according to the Texas penal code.

In a tweet, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said the State Senate will pass a bill increasing the penalty next week. Patrick said the House amended the bill to include the reduced penalty at the "last minute" and it "went under the radar" until he, Abbott, and Attorney General Ken Paxton found it and "agreed then it must be corrected."

The Tribune reported that the amendment was made by State Rep. Steve Allison, a Republican, and that the bill was approved in both the House and Senate.

While the Secretary of State's office told lawmakers that voting in the state was "smooth and secure," GOP leaders have pushed for stricter penalties for illegal voting, the Tribune reported.

Abbott has also recently pushed for an election audit of the 2020 presidential election at the request of former President Donald Trump.

In an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace, Abbott defended the move to audit the state's four largest counties, despite Trump winning the state by 600,000 votes.

Abbott's office did not respond to an email request for comment at the time of publication.

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