Temple, TX School District in apparent breach of Texas election law

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Oct 21, 2015 No Comments ›› admin

by Lynn Woolley

EDITOR’S NOTE: (October 23) I received a call from the legislative director for the sponsor of the “Rolling Polling” or “rolling voting” legislation that went into effect September 1, 2015. After a long visit with the Texas Secretary of State, they have conceded that the law was so poorly written that it is not possible to force school districts to stop the rolling polling during early voting — at least not yet! The bill WAS designed to stop this sleazy practice but the Texas Sec-State is allowing it due to the language of the bill. The SPIRIT of the bill and its original intent is to stop rolling polling. Sponsors say they will fix the language next session but for now ISD’s can get away with doing it. I will leave my column up with this addendum while asking the education establishment to please run fair elections.

“Rolling voting,” the practice of setting up short, temporary voting locations for the purpose of “harvesting votes” is illegal in Texas as of September 1. And yet, some school districts are still using the practice to tip the scales in favor of local bond issues.

Temple, Texas is using rolling voting in an attempt to pass a $136-million dollar bond issue.

In a four-page, color mailer that went out to district voters recently, the district promoted six quick-vote locations – all at school campuses and all on different days and all for three to four hour blocs.

Temple ISD's mailer showing apparent illegal rolling voting locations

Temple ISD’s mailer showing apparent illegal rolling voting locations

That is the definition of rolling voting, and what the District is doing is an apparent breaking of that new law. Texas school districts are quite aware that they can’t do this anymore. However, they are doing it anyway and it remains to be seen whether the State of Texas will stop them or set aside illegal elections.

Backers of this new law [House Bill 2027] say that it adds uniformity and predictability to the process by requiring that mobile polling locations be more steady – at least in operation for two days in a row and for at least 8 hours a day. The Temple bond election is in violation on both those points.

Rep. Greg Bonnen, the bill’s sponsor, is quoted in the Texas Tribune that some governmental entities use rolling voting in a way that they “could essentially harvest votes.”

“That did not seem consistent with giving all the voters and equal stake in the election.”

According to the Tribune, the practice first drew attention form fiscal conservatives who charge that “debt-plagued” school districts employ rolling voting to push through costly bond issues. They take ballots to a school or to a football game where they think most people will vote for the bonds. Cy-Fair and Frisco are two schools where this practice is suspected to have occurred.

Does the Texas Association of School Boards play a part?

That’s hard to tell. But several tactics used by the education establishment to push through bonds issues smells like the TASB. Rolling voting, conducting elections on “friendly” territory such as campuses, and urging those 65 and older to vote for the bonds since their tax rates are frozen by law.

TISD bond signIf you’re over 65, stay home – or vote no.

There is something un-American about a protected group of people – those over 65 years of age – having the ability to vote higher taxes for other people while not seeing the higher taxes on their own property bills.

What will be done to Districts that break this law?

It is not likely that a lot of school districts will voluntarily stop the practice of rolling voting. The State, in some form, will have to step in and put a stop to it by administering some type of consequences. At a Central Texas Tea Party meeting on October 20, member Davis Ford brought up this law in the presence of Henry Garza, the Bell County District Attorney.

The law enforcement community knows what Temple ISD is doing. Two questions: Will they enforce the law? And will the local media report this as a news story?

If not, the State of Texas MUST step in.


ADDENDUM 10/22/15

The Temple Daily Telegram ran a front page story today to dispute any illegality. Here is the text of the actual bill. You can decide if you believe the TISD is in breach of the law, in full compliance, or is violating the spirit of the law:

H.B. No. 2027

relating to establishing precincts for elections held on a uniform
election date by certain political subdivisions.
SECTION 1. Section 42.002, Election Code, is amended by
amending Subsection (a) and adding Subsection (c) to read as
(a) The county election precincts are the election
precincts for the following elections:
(1) the general election for state and county
(2) a special election ordered by the governor;
(3) a primary election;
(4) a countywide election ordered by the commissioners
court, county judge, or other county authority, except an election
subject to Section 42.062(2); and
(5) as provided by Section 42.0621, any other election
held by [on the November uniform election date of] a political
subdivision on a uniform election date[, other than a district that
is created under Section 52, Article III, or Section 59, Article
XVI, Texas Constitution, and is located in a county with a
population of more than 3.3 million or a county adjacent to a county
with a population of more than 3.3 million].
(c) Subsection (a)(5) does not apply to an election held on
the May uniform election date by a political subdivision that:
(1) conducts early voting by personal appearance:
(A) at 75 percent or more of its permanent or
temporary branch polling places on the same days and during the same
hours as voting is conducted at the main early voting polling place;
(B) at each remaining polling place for at least
two consecutive days of voting during the early voting period, and
for at least eight hours on each of the two consecutive days; or

(2) has not established a permanent or temporary
branch early voting polling place.
SECTION 2. The heading to Section 42.0621, Election Code,
is amended to read as follows:
SECTION 3. Section 42.0621(a), Election Code, is amended to
read as follows:
(a) In an election held on a [the November] uniform election
date, the political subdivisions to which Section 42.002(a)(5)
applies shall use the regular county election precincts.
SECTION 4. Section 43.004(b), Election Code, is amended to
read as follows:
(b) If a political subdivision holds an election on a [the
November] uniform election date and is required to use the regular
county election precincts, the political subdivision shall
designate as the polling places for the election the regular county
polling places in the county election precincts that contain
territory from the political subdivision.
SECTION 5. This Act takes effect September 1, 2015.

______________________________ ______________________________
President of the Senate Speaker of the House

I certify that H.B. No. 2027 was passed by the House on April
23, 2015, by the following vote: Yeas 141, Nays 0, 2 present, not
voting; and that the House concurred in Senate amendments to H.B.
No. 2027 on May 22, 2015, by the following vote: Yeas 129, Nays 2,
3 present, not voting.

Chief Clerk of the House

I certify that H.B. No. 2027 was passed by the Senate, with
amendments, on May 21, 2015, by the following vote: Yeas 31, Nays

Secretary of the Senate
APPROVED: __________________


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