Austin is gearing up for another election, where voters will decide the fate of two local propositions—one being the highly contested police department reform ordinance—and eight state constitutional amendments.
Here's everything you need to know to head to the polls.
Dates to know and where to vote
Early voting begins Monday, Oct. 18 and runs through Friday, Oct. 29. On those days, residents can head to a polling location from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Election Day is on Tuesday, Nov. 2. Polling locations will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
If you're unsure if you are eligible to vote, check here (the registration deadline has passed for this election). You can also preview your personal ballot.
There are about two dozen early voting locations across the city. Here is where you can vote:
In Texas, you may be able to vote by mail if you are already registered and you are:
- 65 and older
- Out of the country during the entire election period
- Sick or disabled
- Expected to give birth within 3 weeks before or after Election Day
- In jail
You still have some time to apply to vote by mail. The application form, which can be found here, must be received by Friday, Oct 22. The form contains other detailed instructions.
What's on the ballot
Austin voters will be asked to weigh in on two propositions.
The more controversial, Proposition A, if approved, would establish new minimum standards for the Austin Police Department. By adding a new chapter to the department's established standards, the proposition would require the department to employ at least two sworn officers for every 1,000 residents of the city and would create other standards related to staffing, training, and recruiting. Implementing the proposition could cost between $271.5 and nearly $600 million over five years according to estimates reported by city staff.
Proponents say the measure will bolster APD, which currently faces a staffing shortage, and make Austin safer after the city has seen a high murder count this year. Opponents say it costs too much and ties the hands of city officials who will be forced to cut other city services to meet the new requirements. Beyond the financial implications, some opponents also disagree that more officers will necessarily make the city safer as its a national problem and the murder rate isn't unusual.
Proposition B asks voters to allow City Council to "convey or lease" 9 acres of parkland along Lakeshore Boulevard, which is currently being used as a maintenance facility, in exchange for at least 48 acres of new waterfront property and the "cost or construction" of a new maintenance facility on other city-owned land. Proponents say the measure will add greatly to Austin's parkland resources and allow for construction of a new maintenance facility. While the ballot language of the proposition is not specific, it's been reported that tech giant Oracle is the likely partner in this deal and that the parkland of interest to be acquired is adjacent to John Treviño Jr. Metropolitan Park in southeast Austin.
Voters will also be asked to approve or reject eight amendments to the Texas Constitution.
- Texas Proposition 1, the Authorize Charitable Raffles at Rodeo Venues Amendment, would allow professional association-sanctioned rodeos to hold raffles at their events.
- Texas Proposition 2, the Authorize Counties to Issue Infrastructure Bonds in Blighted Areas Amendment, would allow counties to issue bonds for infrastructure within certain limits.
- Texas Proposition 3, the Prohibition on Limiting Religious Services or Organizations Amendment, would prohibit state or local governments from prohibiting or limiting religious services.
- Texas Proposition 4, the Changes to Eligibility for Certain Judicial Offices Amendment, would increase restrictions on who is eligible to run for a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge.
- Texas Proposition 5, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct Authority Over Candidates for Judicial Office Amendment, would allow complaints against judicial candidates to be accepted and acted upon.
- Texas Proposition 6, the Right to Designated Essential Caregiver Amendment, would guarantee that residents of certain types of group facilities have the right to in-person visits from essential caregivers.
- Texas Proposition 7, the Homestead Tax Limit for Surviving Spouses of Disabled Individuals Amendment, would bring the state constitution in line with existing state law which already provides for this exemption.
- Texas Proposition 8, the Homestead Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouses of Military Fatally Injured in the Line of Duty Amendment, would expand the homestead tax exemption that covers surviving spouses of those killed in military service to include those killed in ways other than combat, such as in training exercises.
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