I am informed that the city secretary for the City of Bartlett in Williamson County has asserted once again for the fourth year running that there is “no state law” requiring the city to conduct early voting within its city limits during the entirety of the early voting period for the May election, and that despite the fact that in-person early voting is to be conducted from April 27, 2015 through May 5, 2015, there will only be one day of early voting within the City of Bartlett city limits; namely on Saturday, May 2nd. This is both annoying and wrong, and a disservice to the voters of that city, but it may also be a shortcut chosen by other political entities as well, given that various other entities inside Williamson County also have weirdly truncated and limited early voting. Last year, in response to complaints about the lack of early voting, the Temple Daily Telegraph ran a story asserting the city’s position that an election services contract with Williamson County justified the lack of early voting locations. The story is behind a paywall, but there’s not much point in reading it, given that the city’s premise is wrong and is flatly contradicted by state law, as I’ve explained before.
The May elections are coming up, and the voters in thousands of cities, school districts, and a myriad of other special and general law districts will be going to the polls – as ever, the Texas Secretary of State has a handy (if somewhat daunting) calendar describing the procedural deadlines and events before and after the May election date.
I want to be clear that it is emphatically not okay for a city, a school district, or any other entity to fail to offer early voting at its main place of business for each day of the early voting period – Section 85.002 of the Texas Election Code is unambiguously clear on this point. To recap – if your city is having an election, then there has to be a main early voting polling place inside your city limits, and it has to be open at least during regular business hours every weekday of the early voting period. There’s no intervening or superseding statute that “forgives” or “excuses” not providing this minimal level of in-person early voting.