News Roundup: Report Finds 277,000 Texans Experienced Problems Voting In 2018

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Kristen CabreraMarch 27, 2019 5:28 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

More than 277,000 Texans faced problems at the polls when voting in the 2018 midterm elections, according to a new report from the Texas Civil Rights Project.

Based on data the group collected, it identified five main barriers to casting a ballot in the state. They include voting machine malfunctions, non-compliance with voter registration law and inconvenient polling locations.

Emily Eby is a staff attorney with the group and one of the authors of the report. She explains one way to improve the voting process in Texas is to professionalize poll worker training.

“Paying poll workers a wage where skilled people are able to take the day off so that they can go in and run a polling place – those things are going to be incredibly helpful to making sure every eligible Texan gets to cast a ballot that counts,” Eby says.

Another solution the Texas Civil Rights Project proposes is that Texas should start offering online voter registration.

“With online voter registration, it’s so much easier to tell what the person has written,” Eby says. “A lot of the problems we saw at the polls are because somebody registered to vote, the person at the county office who input their voter registration, couldn’t read their handwriting and their name was misprinted or some data about them was misprinted and so they were disenfranchised because of handwriting.”

Thirty-nine other states already offer online voter registration.

The Texas Senate is moving forward on a measure requiring more transparency in reporting sexual assaults at Texas universities and colleges.

The bill, sponsored by Houston Republican Joan Huffman, passed unanimously Tuesday on second reading. It would require public and private universities to report all incidents to a campus’ Title IX coordinating board.

“One in five, I’ll repeat that, one in five female college students experience some kind of sexual assault during their time at college. It is imperative that victims and witnesses have a safe and reliable reporting structure,” Huffman said.

Huffman says schools that don’t comply could face fines of up to $2 million. Employees who fail to report incidents could also be terminated and prosecuted. The bill needs a final vote in the Senate before moving to the Texas House for consideration.

The Episcopal Health Foundation released Affordable Care Act enrollment numbers for Texas today, looking at the Marketplace’s sixth open enrollment period.

Total 2018 enrollment was down slightly from the previous period of 1.1 million people.

Data shows that most enrollees were returning customers and women – while an overwhelming amount lived in non-rural areas.