Oct 1, 2021
Register to vote for say on cops
Campaign volunteers work the crowd to register supporters to vote before the start of a political rally in 2018.
Campaign volunteers work the crowd to register supporters to vote before the start of Rep. Beto O'Rourke's Turn Out for Texas Rally in 2018. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

If you want a say on police presence in Austin, register to vote by Monday. That's the deadline to get on the rolls for the Nov. 2 election.

Why it matters: Proposition A would put more cops on the street, at a cost.

  • If approved by voters, the city would be required to have at least two officers for every 1,000 people — it's now at about 1.7.
  • City finance officials say the measure could cost $271.5 million to $598.8 million over five years.

The big picture: The Prop A campaign falls against the backdrop of an uptick in homicides. At least 65 people have been murdered in Austin so far this year; the previous annual record was 59, set in 1984, and 2021 still has three months to go.

  • Yes, but: Even as the murder rate has more than doubled since 2017, it remains less than half its 1985 rate because Austin's population has grown dramatically.

What they're saying: Matt Mackowiak, co-founder of the Save Austin Now PAC, which put the issue on the ballot — and previously funded a successful anti-homeless camping referendum — tells Axios the increase in murders is tied to a "staffing crisis" within the thin blue line and a "toxic" atmosphere related to efforts to defund the police.

The other side: "The idea that Austin is experiencing some sort of 'crime wave' is a blatant falsehood," members of the Austin Justice Coalition wrote, describing how crime declined slightly between 2019 and 2020.

  • Foes of Prop A say the jump in violent crime represents a small percentage of Austin's overall crime — murders comprise less than 0.05% of all crime in the city.
  • The proposition "would force Austin to cut essential services to spend hundreds of millions more solely on the police department, with zero accountability," per No Way on Prop A campaign literature.

Prop A opponents also say spending more on law enforcement takes away from other city programs, like libraries.

Get involved: Voter registration applications can be filled out online, but they must be printed and mailed to your county's voter registrar. Online applications can be found on the Texas Secretary of State's website, and registration information is available at the Travis County Tax Office.

  • Travis County residents can register to vote at any of the county's tax offices. Applications are also available at public libraries, post offices and facilities for the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Department of Health and Human Services.
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