Comment on Hays County Electioneering Policies
I sent this email in response to the County's proposed "Policies and
Regulations Regarding Electioneering on Properties Owned by Hays County." It
was tabled Sept 9, but will be back next week. I attached Burson v Freeman
To Judge Cobb and the Hays County Commissioners:
I would strongly urge you to take a look at the attached U.S. Supreme Court
case. Political expression (or campaigning; or electioneering; or whatever
you want to call it) is not considered "content neutral." And there is a very
long tradition of upholding political free speech within the traditional
public forum under the laws of our country. Moreover, since a narrowly
defined "campaign-free" zone is currently allowed under the Texas Election
Code, to expand this zone any farther by imposing additional regulations
could be interpreted as an infringement of people's First Amendment Right to
Free Speech. I don't believe for a moment that any member of our
Commissioners Court has the intention of doing that.
Many counties, and cities, have jumped on the bandwagon provided by HB 259.
These policies, regulations, and ordinances have resulted in a plethora of
rules that have absolutely no consistency from one polling place to another -
from one city to another - or from one county to another. Moreover, these
regulations fly in the face of what Representative Ron Simmons, the sponsor
of the bill, stated was the intention of HB 259:
"This change in law protects First Amendment rights by assuring that people
are able to express their political views without fear of prosecution or
But if you are campaigning state-wide, or even within multiple counties, how
is a candidate to know what the laws will be now at each individual polling
place? How will a candidate, and their volunteers, in Hays County know the
specific regulations at all the various polling places? Rather than
protecting people from possible prosecution as stated by Representative
Simmons, it now places people very much in danger of unwittingly violating
the law through ignorance.
I hope that you will take the time to conduct some research and take a look
at the vast range of policies, regulations and ordinances that have been
passed in the last year as a result of HB 259.
And I hope that you will continue to uphold the rights guaranteed to us under
the United States Constitution. Even if it is sometimes uncomfortable and
inconvenient for you during election time.