East Texas legislator puts pause on bill outlawing countywide polling places

Hall withdrew a motion to suspend the rules, which ended the debate for the day.
Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 5:19 PM CDT
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AUSTIN, Texas (KLTV) - A state senator representing a portion of East Texas is facing resistance to his bill that would eliminate countywide polling places.

Sen. Bob Hall (R-Rockwall) introduced Senate Bill 990, which would outlaw countywide polling places on Election Day, limiting voters to their residential precincts. As Hall stated during discussion, the voter would have “one place that you go, one machine which your vote will be put in.” The intent, Hall said, is to avoid prioritizing convenience over security.

The bill previously passed the State Affairs Committee in March and was set to be discussed and voted upon on Tuesday. Hall presented his bill to the Texas Senate as planned. However, after presentation, Hall made a motion for suspension of the rules, the passing of which would allow a bill to go directly to a vote after having been laid out. The motion did not pass, and instead the Senate began to debate the bill.

Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) asked Hall to clarify how restricting voting to a single location would resolve the issue of security. Hall reiterated the specifics of his concerns, such as the input of additional names into poll books near the end of the voting day, but did not appear to have an answer regarding correlation to the bill’s intent.

“I cannot yet, for the life of me, see the rationale,” Menéndez said as he closed. “I do agree with you; transparency, accuracy, critically important... security, all very important, but I don’t see how taking away countywide polling and forcing people to vote in one location makes it any better.”

Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) pointed out that Hall may not understand the effect that this bill would have on people living in larger cities.

“It’s just been really functioning well to allow people vote near their job, near their school, near their family,” said Whitmire. “I wish you would consider the hardship, and maybe the interruption, of something that’s working really well in the urban areas.”

After several Democrats debated Hall on the bill, Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) asked for clarification on the bill. Perry asked that the ban only affect Election Day and not early voting. When Hall answered affirmatively, Perry said, “I like the way it works in Lubbock and I didn’t want to change that.”

Following that exchange, Hall asked to approach the dais for a discussion with other senators. After that discussion, Hall withdrew his motion to suspend the rules, which ended the debate for the day. Hall explained he wanted to work on an amendment.