The Devine City Council unanimously voted at an Emergency meeting held at 3:00 pm on Tuesday, April 7, to postpone the upcoming General Election until November 3.
The election had previously been scheduled for May 2, and Council had voted unanimously to keep it at that date during an Emergency meeting on March 27, and in a split vote during a Special meeting held April 2.
Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation on March 18 granting political subdivisions the ability to push elections from May until November. Abbott issued an Executive Order on March 31 stating that essential services in the state consist of everything listed by the US Department of Homeland Security, which includes election personnel but not voters.
The Texas Secretary of State (SOS) emailed political subdivisions to alert them about Abbott’s Executive Order on April 1, and on April 2, Keith Ingram, the State’s Director of Elections, sent an additional email to local election officials warning that municipalities that hadn’t postponed May elections “must do so immediately.”
“If you don’t move your May 2nd election, you are subjecting voters to health risks and potential criminal violations,” Ingram wrote. “Failure to postpone your election will put your election at severe risk for an election contest.”
On April 3, Hart InterCivic, an Austin-based company that provides election technologies and services throughout a number of states, sent an email canceling on-site services and ballot printing for May 2 elections based on the Secretary of State’s advisory.
Also on April 3, the Texas Municipal League (TML), which provides services to Texas cities, sent an email to municipalities informing them that the SOS elections division had interpreted Abbot’s Executive Order as essentially mandating that May elections be postponed, and that it would prevent cities from finding polling places, election works, and a safe way for people to vote.
“Because of all this, we no longer have an option but to move our election to November like the Secretary of State has required,” Thompson said.
Thompson asked that the City sign onto a petition urging Abbott to allow elections to be held in July, when run-off elections are currently set to be held.
Council first discussed the petition in the April 2 meeting.
“I believe that voters are, in fact, essential, and I think that everybody in this room feels the same way,” Thompson said.
A motion by District 3 Councilman David Espinosa and District 2 Councilman Steve Lopez to postpone Devine’s election until November and to sign the petition to allow it to be held in July passed 4-0, with the support of District 1 Councilman Rufino Vega and District 5 Councilwoman Debra Randall.
April 2 meeting
In the April 2 meeting, which was held after Abbott’s Executive Order and its interpretation by the SOS and its elections division on April 1 and 2, Council was split on whether to postpone the election.
Randall and Vega voted against an Espinosa-Lopez motion in favor of postponement, and with the District 4 seat still vacant at the time (see separate story), the decision fell to Thompson, who as mayor has the authority to vote in case of a tie.
Thompson refused to vote, citing a desire to see the outcome of the previously mentioned petition being sent to Abbott, and the motion failed.
Motions require a simple majority in order to pass.
Devine ISD has already postponed its upcoming School Board election, which was also originally scheduled for May 2, until November 3. That decision was made during the March 23 DISD Board meeting.
The next Regular Council meeting is set for April 21. Council meetings are now broadcast live, and can be seen by visiting www.cityofdevine.com and clicking on the “Live Council Meetings” link at the top of the page.
Meetings are also archived for later viewing, though the April 2 meeting didn’t record properly and is unavailable.
By Marly Davis