A new Texas law relating to temporary branch polling place hours of operation signed by the Governor last month will likely close several early voting polling locations across the state, including in Cameron County resulting in the county having to shut down almost a dozen early voting locations, which could impact thousands of voters.
HB 1888 will require mobile polling places to remain in one location during the early voting period and stay open for eight hours a day, or three hours in places with fewer than 1,000 registered voters. Currently, counties can move temporary branch polling places based on demand and wait times.
House bill 1888 requires all early voting locations to be open for two full weeks.
Early voting locations that could be closed include Valley Baptist Medical Center in Brownsville and Harlingen, Texas Southmost College, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and Texas State Technical College.
State Senator Joan Huffman, a Houston Republican who sponsored the bill, said some mobile polling places target desirable voting populations at the exclusion of others. Adding that those who need to make arrangements to vote have time to do that. But the bill still raises concerns for other lawmakers and county election offices
And for the Rio Grande Valley, this could mean fewer early voting locations in rural towns like Rio Hondo and Santa Maria, and longer waiting times.
The law will take effect this year on September 1.