The Austin Chronicle

https://www.austinchronicle.com/daily/news/2023-05-07/austin-voters-approve-prop-as-strong-police-oversight/

Austin Voters Approve Prop A's Strong Police Oversight

By Maggie Q. Thompson, May 7, 2023, 12:45am, Newsdesk

The May 6 election made it clear: Austin is ready to dramatically expand civilian oversight of police.

With about 78,000 voters turning out for the May 6 election on two police oversight propositions with the same name (Austin Police Oversight Act), the progressive Prop A got approval from a resounding 70% of voters, per unofficial voting numbers. Prop B, which copy-pasted language from Prop A and then edited it to reduce oversight powers, received support from only 20% of voters.

As we observed from early voting numbers, turnout overall was not spectacular. In 2021, when a GOP-aligned PAC Save Austin Now was able to get a measure on the ballot to increase police staffing, roughly twice as many people cast a vote (and the police association-backed measure lost). A little more than 10% of Austin voters showed up this election, which is not atypical for a May election without high profile offices on the ballot.

Still, the passage of Prop A – which seeks to grant the Office of Police Oversight a whole lot of freedoms, including greater access to Austin Police Department’s internal affairs investigations – marks a huge stride for the city, and possibly the beginning of litigation over the legality of some of the measure’s language. If a court does eventually throw certain elements of the measure out, the undisputed parts of the ordinance will still stand.

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