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Local News

April 8, 2013

Democrats blast cuts to early voting days

AUSTIN — Democrats in the Texas House on Monday blasted a Republican proposal to reduce the number of early voting days in Texas, as well as other proposed changes to the state’s election laws.

Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring, introduced HB 2093, which would cut five days from the current 12-day early voting period because she said it is difficult for county election officials to recruit enough volunteers to operate the polls.

Conservative groups, such as True the Vote and the Texas Republican County Chairman’s Association, supported the bill because they have trouble recruiting poll observers for the full 12 days and said it would save counties money.

“This would be a one-third reduction of election costs,” Erin Anderson, a member of True the Vote told the House Elections Committee. She said it would be better to add more voting locations for fewer days.

More than half of Texas voters cast their ballots during the early voting period, and Democrats representing working-class districts noted that Florida, which passed similar legislation two years ago, was planning to return to a longer early voting period. Rep. Gene Wu, D-Houston, also noted that the Legislative Budget Board determined changing the law would not save money.

Committee vice chairman Rep. Boris Miles, D-Houston, said the bill was exactly the same as other measures introduced across the country in Republican-controlled states.

“This is about the suppression of voters in the state of Texas and I don’t think the people of Texas want to go in that direction,” he said.

Nearly a dozen witnesses spoke against the measure, insisting that any changes to a decade-old system would only lead to fewer people casting their ballots. Others said the state should be making it easier to vote, not less convenient.

Also Monday, Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, introduced a bill that would require bond initiatives put before voters to include information about the city’s or county’s Standard and Poor’s credit rating or the school district’s state comptroller rating. Credit ratings are used by the bond market to determine a community’s debt load and ability to pay back the bonds plus interest.

 

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