The city of Taylor, Texas is governed by members under a single-member form of district government. This notice details the new requirements of SB 477, as well as general requirements and procedures related to accessibility in the electoral process. All legal references in this notice are to the Texas Election Code (“the Code”), unless otherwise stated. SB 477 amended Section 63.0015 of the Code to provide that priority in the order of voting for a person with mobility problems is no longer a discretionary decision of the election official.
This requirement applies to all elections, regardless of whether the election is conducted by the county or by a local political subdivision. As amended, Section 63.0015 states that if a voter has a mobility problem that substantially impairs their ability to wander, and the voter agrees to be given priority in the voting order, the electoral officer must place the voter at the front of the line to be accepted to vote before other people who arrived before the person at the polling place. Priority in the order of voting can also be given to a person helping a person with a mobility problem, at the request of the person. Election officials must routinely monitor the line at the polling place to determine if there are any voters who wish to request this form of priority in the voting order. As a result of SB 477, the Secretary of State amended the Notice of Priority in voting orders to include new text stating that voting order should be given priority to voters with certain disabilities.
Use the latest version of this form when preparing your notices to be posted at the polling station. According to section 64.009 of the Code, if a voter cannot physically enter the voting center without personal assistance or without the possibility of harming their health, an election official will deliver a ballot or voting machine to the voter at the entrance to the voting center or restrict the voter's request. This process is commonly known as “curbside voting”.Curbside voting MUST be available at all polling centers during early voting and on election day. In addition, curbside voting must be conducted in a manner that does not prevent entry to the polling place.
Election officials must consider these obligations when selecting their polling stations. An election official cannot challenge a voter's request to vote on the sidewalk. At the voter's request, a person accompanying them may select their ballot and deposit it in the ballot box. When people vote on the sidewalk, their car becomes their voting station. Voters who vote on the sidewalk must have the opportunity to vote their ballot privately (in the same way as a voter in the voting booth) and, therefore, have the right to vote without interference from campaigns or spectators.
According to article 32,075 of the Code, it is up to presiding judge to preserve order and prevent breaches of peace if there are people who harass voters while they are voting on the sidewalk. Under Section 64.009 (f) of the Code, anyone who assists seven or more voters on the sidewalk by providing them with transportation to their polling place must complete and sign a form provided by an election official containing their name and address and whether they provide assistance only under Section 64.009 or if they also provide assistance under Chapter 64, subchapter B. A form completed under this process will be submitted to Secretary of State as soon as possible. Section 64.009 (f) does not apply if they attending is related to each voter in second degree by affinity (marriage) or in third degree by consanguinity (blood). If all voters register at polling place using electronic ballot equipment, same process must be used for curbside voters. In that situation, curbside voters cannot be asked to complete separate combined form, as that is an unacceptable method of tracking which voters used curbside voting procedures.
Curbside voters must have same registration process offered other voters on electronic ballot devices. Voters who vote through curbside voting process must also have same procedures and accommodations as other voters regarding use of accessible voting system equipment. Under Section 61.012 of Code, each voting center and early voting location must provide at least one unit of accessible voting system equipment to allow voters with disabilities to vote independently on secret ballot. That equipment must be available sidewalk voters same way it is available voters inside polling place. If entity uses electronic voting system as primary method of voting, entity must provide that electronic voting system all voters whether they vote on sidewalk or at polling station. Article 123,005 Code states regular paper ballots cannot be used in polling place that uses electronic voting system.
If entity uses electronic voting system for accessibility reasons and uses hand-marked paper ballots as primary method of voting then entity can offer paper ballots curbside voters but it must be prepared provide that equipment any sidewalk voter who requires use of accessible voting system. SB 477 also amended Section 64.009 Code include additional requirements for curbside voting each polling place. Each polling place must provide reserved voting area on sidewalk that is no smaller than size parking space. Area may not be specifically designated for voters with disabilities and designated curbside voting area must be separated from any accessible parking space provided on-site. The county elections official website must also include description all procedures and accommodations available voters with disabilities including curbside voting procedures. The publication website should include information how voter can request assistance on sidewalk polling place including information about how they can obtain an interpreter if needed. Voting is an important part of our democracy and it is essential that everyone has access to it regardless of any physical limitations they may have.
The city of Taylor has taken steps to ensure that those with mobility issues can still exercise their right to vote by providing priority in line and curbside options for those who need them. In addition, those who require an interpreter can also make use of this service when visiting their local polling station in Taylor, Texas. The county elections official website should provide information about how one can obtain an interpreter when needed so that everyone can participate fully in our democratic process. It is important for everyone who wishes to cast their vote in Taylor, Texas to understand these new requirements so that they can make sure they are able to exercise their right without any issues or delays.