LEGISLATION WOULD EXEMPT SMALL CITIES FROM ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINE REQUIREMENT
After the election problems in Florida and other states during the 2000 presidential election, Congress determined that there were serious problems with the nation’s elections processes. In response to those real or perceived problems, Congress enacted the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). The Texas Legislature’s implementation of HAVA in Texas has had negative consequences for some Texas cities.
HAVA borrowed from the federal Americans with Disabilities Act to mandate access for disabled voters. While HAVA applies only to federal elections, the Texas Legislature extended its provisions to all elections in the state. Accordingly, current law mandates the use of at least one electronic voting machine in each polling place for all elections. While Texas city officials are sensitive to the needs of the disabled community, the issue quickly became one of costs and benefits. Many Texas cities do not have sight-impaired or other disabled voters. And if they do, there are other procedures in the Elections Code to assist those voters.
Now, legislators have filed two bills that would exempt small cities from the electronic voting machine requirement.
- H.B. 419 (B. Brown) – Elections: would provide that: (1) a city with a population of less than 5,000 is exempt from certain electronic voting requirements; and (2) the exemption shall not apply in a joint election where a federal office appears on the ballot.
- H.B. 381 (Callegari) – Elections: would provide that: (1) a political subdivision with a population of less than 5,000, other than a county, is exempt from certain electronic voting machine requirements; and (2) the exemption shall not apply in a joint election where a federal office appears on the ballot.
Affected city officials may wish to contact their legislators to express support for these proposals.