Texas Lawmaker Pulls Bill That Would Shorten Early Voting Period

early voting period Credit: Texas Tribune[/caption]

On Monday, April 8, Texas State Representative Patricia Harless pulled her bill, HB 2093, which would shorten the early voting period in the state after receiving opposition in the House Elections Committee. The bill would have shortened the amount of early voting days from fourteen to seven.

The move means that while the legislation remains pending in committee, it will not be voted on. Representative Harless told to her colleagues it would be a good issue to discuss in the off-season.

The committee mostly heard from those against the bill; a total of 13 people registered to testify against the bill while only three registered to support the bill.

Among those against the bill included members from organizations such as the Texas NAACP, the Texas Democratic Party, and Empower the Vote Texas. In addition, various organizations, including Empower the Vote Texas, sent a letter to the committee explaining their opposition:

In 2011, Florida experimented with reducing its early voting days from 14 to 8. The results were long lines and frustration of voters and election workers, which again subjected Florida to widespread media criticism. Texas should learn from Florida’s mistake and not reduce its popular early voting program. The percentage of voters who use early voting has increased with each election. Fifty percent of voters cast their ballot in the early voting period in 2004, over 66% in 2008 and over 63% in 2012. Early voting has existed in Texas since 1987 and is a system that works here. There is no reason to fix a system that is not broken.
Those testifying for the bill included a representative for True the Vote Now, an organization dedicated to stopping voter fraud. The organization trains volunteers to be election monitors and to bring attention to suspicious voter registrations.
In its 2013 Election Code Reform Recommendations for the 83rd Legislative Session, True the Vote Now mentioned its main reason for supporting the legislation:
A seven-day Early Voting period will make it easier for election administrators to recruit adequate election workers, while allowing ample time for voters to access the polls.
Others who testified for the bill include Skipper Wallace with the Texas Republican County Chairmen’s Association. He argued that fourteen days of early voting was too expensive, saying, “I really don’t think the taxpayers of Texas are interested in paying 40 to 50 dollars per vote when really we have a lot of slack time in the 14 days we have early voting elections in.”
Though further discussion on the matter was put on hold, it is uncertain whether similar legislation will be considered in future legislative sessions.