Bill to Slash Early Voting Meets Opposition

Local Republican legislator had her bill  to slash the length of early voting considered only to be met with heavy opposition. It looks like she will pull the bill.

House Bill 2093, by state Rep. Patricia Harless, R-Spring, would limit the early-voting period in Texas to seven days before general and primary elections. Current law mandates 12 days.

Harless initially said the measure was necessary to help elections administrators hire workers and volunteers, saying that a 12-day early-voting period as a possible deterrent.

But after testimony at Monday’s House Elections Committee hearing, where critics slammed its intent as little more than an effort to make casting a ballot harder for everyone, Harless said she would not ask the committee for a vote.

A recent study done by a scholar at MIT found that minorities were already waiting the longest in lines to vote. Obviously, we have much more to worry about than county elections folks complaining about not being able to work the 12-day early vote session. And the study gives some suggestions:

1. The number of in-person voters is reduced, through absentee voting. (As a corollary, Election Day lines should be reduced as early voting options are expanded.)
2. The number of poll books and the utilization are of electronic poll books are increased.
3. The number of voters per polling place is decreased.
4. The number of physical polling sites is increased.
5. The number of poll workers is increased.
6. The number of voting machines is increased.
7. The length of ballots is decreased.
8. The amount of information provided to voters ahead of the election is increased (so as to reduce the amount of time spent reading the ballot in the voting booth).

Obviously, early voting plays an important role in this, considering that it is fast becoming the way for most people to vote. So, what gives with Harless’ bill?

Most of these suggestions take money, but I would think that the government’s most important task is to ensure that our democracy works–and that means ensuring the people’s ability to choose their representatives. Too lofty a notion? Or do elected officials really want to stop people from voting?

That said, the President’s bipartisan commission will hopefully come up with some solutions; however, and I repeat, it all takes money. Instead of tax giveaways to the wealthy, those in power need to start investing in a whole bunch of things, and protecting the franchise is one of them.

Kuff has more.

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