AUSTIN, Texas - Monday is the first day of early voting for the November election. Depending on where you live, there are races for local elected offices, as well as a slew of state and local propositions.
In Austin, all eyes are on Prop A, which would beef up staffing within the city’s police department. If passed, it would increase police staffing to at least two officers per 1,000 people, as well as beef up training and add cadet classes.
Proponents argue additional officers are needed to tackle this year’s uptick in violent crime, with three former mayors backing Prop A.
A rally against Prop A was held this morning at the George Washington Carver Museum in East Austin.
Prop B in Austin has to do with expanding parkland in the city. It would require voters to sign off on any significant land swap between the city and a private entity. That, supporters argue, would result in the city having more land for parks.
Statewide, there are eight propositions on the ballot—two of which stem from restrictions that happened during the pandemic.
If passed, Prop 3 would ban state or local governments from shutting down or limiting religious services in churches and other places of worship. It would push back against executive orders like the ones issued in the spring of 2020 in 10 counties including Travis, that put limits on worship services in response to the pandemic.
Prop 6 would allow residents in places like nursing homes and assisted living facilities to designate one essential caregiver. That person could not be denied in-person visitation rights. This comes after visitation restrictions during the pandemic essentially prevented family and friends from visiting loved ones for several months.
Other statewide propositions include whether to allow charitable raffles at rodeos, rules on eligibility and misconduct procedures for state judges, and property tax exemptions for families who lose loved ones with disabilities, or who lose loved ones in the military.
With so many items on the ballot, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir urges everyone to do their homework and consider voting early.
"Sometimes if you wait until election day and something happens to your schedule and you miss that one opportunity you are sort of putting all your eggs into one basket," said DeBeauvoir. "Just don't worry so much about all the chatter you've heard about all the changes, just get prepared and come out and vote."
Election officials urge voters to check their county’s website for specifics on what is on the ballot where you live.
Early voting runs every day from now until Friday, October 29th. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day except Sunday, when polls are open from noon to 5 p.m. Election Day is November 2nd.