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Starr Co. Commissioners Limits Boundaries of Electioneers

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RIO GRANDE CITY – A controversial resolution means electioneering will have new boundaries at polling places in Starr County.

County commissioners met earlier this week to discuss the resolution that was previously approved, but the item was tabled. CHANNEL 5 NEWS is told the state is looking at the legalities of the resolution, too.

Going to vote sometimes may not be as simple as it seems. In front of many polling places, you’ll see campaigners and even TV cameras.

The campaigners are still trying to sway your vote. Limits are in place as to how far the electioneering can go.

Electioneering is not allowed by state law 100 feet from the polling location’s doors. Starr County commissioners approved a resolution expanding this boundary.

The sheriff’s office will be enforcing the boundaries at polling sites.

Starr County District Attorney Omar Escobar Jr. declined an interview but issued a statement online. It reads in part:

“The court retains the authority to accept or deny any requested use of county property. The county judge's office may also grant access or a permit in an emergency situation where time does not allow submission to the Starr County commissioners' court.”

It also mentions that the uses of parking lots are limited to parking.

Secretary of State’s Office Communications Director Sam Taylor says something a little different. He points us to the election where it says:

“The entity that owns or controls a public building being used as a polling place may not, at any time during the voting period, prohibit electioneering on the building's premises outside of the area described... but may enact reasonable regulations concerning the time, place, and manner of electioneering."

He explains how the law can be applied in this situation.

“So, it says that they may enact reasonable regulations concerning the time, place and manner of electioneering. But a reasonable regulation is not an outright ban. So, it's very important to make that distinction as to what a reasonable regulation is,” said Taylor.

Taylor says the only one who could determine whether this is a wrong interpretation of the code would be a judge.

They tell CHANNEL 5 NEWS they do not know of any lawsuits on the matter that were filed at this time.

In spite of the ruling, the communications director says it would not impact the results of the upcoming elections.

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