The Texas Legislature is moving to significantly restrict the practice of moving early voting locations to places where people will congregate or where it will be easier for them to cast ballots, a practice known as 'rolling polling,' News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
State Rep. Valeree Swanson (R-Spring) is pushing the bill. She says it allows local officials to essentially 'guarantee' that only voters who support a particular issue will have the opportunity to conveniently vote on it.
She cited the recent actions of a school board pushing for approval of a bond issue.
"During school bond elections, moveable polling locations were placed outside football stadiums, or on campuses while PTA meetings wre going on, in transparent attempts to support voters deemed likely to support the bonds," she said.
Swanson says it is easy for school officials, for example, to make sure that the polls are located at schools and are only open during school hours.
"They woudl have poling at, conveniently, it would move every night to whatever school was having open house that night," she said. "So the local voters in many cases didn't even know there was an election going on."
She says that's because the polls were in places where regular voters seldom went, and were only open during times when most people are at work.
Opponents of Swanson's bill say 'rollling pollling' is great for rural counties, where people occasionally have to drive many miles to get to an early voting location. They also say it would require that stationary pollling locations remain open when everybody who is within that location's radius has voted, which would be a waste of taxpayer money.
The bill allows early voting polling stations to move their locations only once during an early voting period, and only after the early voting period is half over. It also exempts counties of under 100,000 population.