Highland Park mobile voting units draw criticism

As early voting begins, a state district judge will decide whether Highland Park ISD will be in violation of a recently passed state law that prohibits mobile voting units.

A temporary restraining order has been filed to put a stop to early voting at Highlander Stadium, where they say some voters would have an unfair advantage on an un-level playing field.

“When you do that, you’re changing…it's no longer a level playing field for the voter,” said Steve Dawson with Save HPISD Schools Committee.

A mobile voting booth is scheduled to be delivered to go to Highlander Stadium on Tuesday for folks casting early ballots on Friday and again the following Friday.

Dawson and other opponents point to House Bill 2027 passed last month, which states that voting booths at events such as football games are against the law, unfairly targeting voters who may be influenced to support a $361 million bond and fund projects like new schools.

They say Texas outlawed this practice Sept. 1.

“Two-thirds of voters don't have children in school,” said Dawson. “So they're being disenfranchised because very few voters without children go to football games. So you can see how two-thirds of the people who don't go to the football games are not accessing the polls.”

Dallas County elections administrator Toni Pippins-Poole says placing the voting booth at the stadium doesn't prevent anyone from participating.

In fact, she says there are extended voting hours: from 7 a.m. through 9 p.m. on both Friday nights, which means, in her opinion, more access; not less.

“You have the opportunity to vote against,” said Pippins-Poole. “It's there for anyone. It's not prohibiting anyone that's against the bond to have access to it. It's right there.”

Pippins-Poole says she'll put the mobile voting unit at the stadium until directed by to do otherwise.

The decision is expected Tuesday morning.

Highland Park ISD says its only intent is to increase voter participation; not influence outcome.

It is, however, the only North Texas school district still using a mobile voting unit at a football stadium this election cycle.

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