Apr 25, 2022 - News

Austin early voting kicks off for May 7 election

Illustration of a checkmark with a marijuana leaf on the end.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Early voting launches Monday for a citywide ballot initiative that would effectively decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and end the practice of "no-knock warrants" by police.

The big picture: Mike Siegel with Ground Game Texas gathered 34,000 signatures to put the measure on the May 7 ballot, and it's seen little opposition.

Flashback: After a 9-0 resolution vote by the Austin City Council, then-police chief Brian Manley announced in 2020 that his department would end misdemeanor marijuana arrests and citations.

  • Voters will decide whether to formalize that city policy.

Zoom out: Public opinion over the decriminalization of weed is shifting.

  • A Gallup poll in November had 68% of Americans supporting full legalization of marijuana, up from 34% in 2001.

As for no-knock warrants, Austin police union president Ken Casaday told KUT that use of the warrants is rare, but "it is vital to have access to it."

The other side: Ground Game Texas called the no-knock warrants "dangerous." Several local governments have banned or limited the use of the warrants by law enforcement officials after the police killing of Breonna Taylor.

Of note: Proposition A is the only ballot initiative within the city of Austin, but Texas voters can vote on two proposed amendments to the state constitution — one over the tax rate for elderly and disabled homeowners and another to increase the homestead exemption for school district property taxes.

  • Plus, there are a slew of local races and ballot initiatives in Central Texas.
  • Check polling locations and find your personal ballot at the Travis County Clerk's website.

Early voting is open from April 25 to May 3. Election Day is May 7.


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