Law­maker pulls bill to al­ter early vot­ing in Texas

Bill would have trimmed pe­riod from 12 to 7 days, put it closer to elec­tion.

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By For­rest Mil­burn fmil­burn@states­man.com

The fu­ture of a bill that trims down the early vot­ing pe­riod is un­cer­tain af­ter its au­thor with­drew it from com­mit­tee con­sid­er­a­tion Mon­day fol­low­ing lo­gis­ti­cal con­cerns from the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice and county elec­tion of­fi­cials.

House Bill 288, au­thored by state Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Wood­lands, would have shrunk the early vot­ing pe­riod from 12 to seven days and pushed it closer to Elec­tion Day.

Ja­son Mill­saps, Keough’s chief of staff, said the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice had con­cerns with how the bill could im­pact lit­i­ga­tion over the state’s voter ID law. The at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice was wor­ried pros­e­cu­tors in fed­eral court could po­ten­tially use HB 288 as an ex­am­ple of at­tempted voter sup­pres­sion, Mill­saps said.

“This bill is not in­tend­ing to lessen turnout from any­one,” Mill­saps said. “Its at­tempt is to lessen the bur­den on our coun­ties to man­age the many days dur­ing early vot­ing, which can be in­cred­i­bly ex­pen­sive.”

Mill­saps said the bill would make early vot­ing more com­pact by com­press­ing it to one week, sav­ing coun­ties from wast­ing tax­payer money on days with low turnout.

While some coun­ties see turnout spike dur­ing the first few days, and again in the fi­nal days of early vot­ing, many vot­ers in other coun­ties do take ad­van­tage of the mid­dle of the pe­riod — when turnout typ­i­cally lags — to cast their bal­lots, said Cinde Weatherby, pres­i­dent of the League of Women Vot­ers in Austin.

“You think you’ve got some time and it just slips away from you,” Weatherby said.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeau­voir said her staff had con­cerns that her staff would struggle to get its work done with just a day be­tween the end of early vot­ing and Elec­tion Day.

Even un­der cur­rent rules, it is “ex­traor­di­nar­ily dif­fi­cult” to prop­erly se­cure and dis­trib­ute in­for­ma­tion to polling sites, DeBeau­voir said.

“Any­thing that puts ex­tra pres­sure on Elec­tion Day is go­ing in the wrong di­rec­tion,” DeBeau­voir said.

Mill­saps said the bill will most likely be de­layed un­til next ses­sion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.