Advocates Seek Major Reforms
As the 83rd Texas Legislative Session gets underway in Austin, one group is pushing for major reforms to the Texas election code. True the Vote NOW, which advocates for more transparency and integrity in elections, has released its "13 for '13," a list of 13 proposals for changing Texas elections. "If we don't get elections right, nothing else matters," says True the Vote NOW President Catherine Engelbrecht. "Our whole system was based on the supposition that free and fair elections will go on to determine who we give our voice to for a season."
Among the group's proposals is making it easier for anyone to become a poll watcher. Under current law, poll watchers must be affiliated with a party or candidate. True the Vote wants to change that. "This allows for the average citizen who may not have a 'dog in the hunt' so to speak, but they still want to have an opportunity to participate in the process," says Engelbrecht. In addition, the group is proposing placing cameras on the check-in areas of early voting sites as an added level of security and to help voters check on lines before they go to a polling place. Engelbrecht tells KTRH the group's goals are all about having more people participating in a more open way in the voting process. "As long as we're out on Election Day recognizing what it means to our country to have an active and engaged electorate, those are things that unite us," she says.
Other proposals from True the Vote NOW include updating and better maintaining voter rolls, tightening residency and citizenship requirements during registration to prevent fraud, establishing a tracking system for mail-in ballots, and shortening early voting to a one week period, lasting from the 10th through the 4th day before Election Day. Some of these may be more difficult than others to pass the Legislature, but Engelbrecht says they are all geared toward a goal of more open and fair elections. "Everything with an eye toward making it more efficient and more effective so that citizens have the opportunity to participate in greater and more important ways."