With a little help from the Local & Consent Calendars Committee, the Texas House could be getting ready to help make local elections more transparent.

There’s a bill currently pending in committee—Senate Bill 1229—that would require local officials to post a lot more information online. If the bill gets out of committee and is approved by the House, then voters could soon have a much better grasp of what their cities, counties, and school districts are asking for. Here’s what might be coming soon.

Before an election…the bill would require a city, county, or school district that holds an election and maintains a website to post the following information, not later than the 21stday before Election Day:

  • The date of the election;
  • The location of each polling place;
  • Each candidate for an elected office on the ballot; and
  • Each measure on the ballot.

After an election…the bill would require a city, county, or school district to post the following information on the entity’s website:

  • The results of each election;
  • The total number of votes cast;
  • The total number of votes cast for each candidate, or for or against each measure;
  • The total number of votes cast by personal appearance on election day;
  • The total number of votes cast by personal appearance or mail during the early voting period; and
  • The total number of counted and uncounted provisional ballots cast.

What’s more, the bill requires the information to be clearly labeled in plain language and published online as soon as practicable after an election.

This passage of this legislation would be an improvement over the status quo in a few different ways, including:

  • Greater government transparency. Voters will have more access to important information before and after any given an election happens locally.
  • Increased participation. With more information made available, i.e. the date of the election and the location of each polling place, there’s a better chance that more Texans will participate in the process.
  • Spotlighting Trends in Local Debt. Policymakers and the public need greater access to clear and accurate data related to election trends, like the number of voters approving/rejecting bond propositions. People interested in the growth of local government debt should be particularly interested in this information as it could help answer whether a small number of voters are approving large debt issuances.

Passage of this bill would be a good step in the right direction. Let’s hope that the House committee and then the full body think so too.