by Foster Milburn
What is a Proposition?
A proposition is a form of direct democracy when citizens vote directly on new laws or changes to existing ones. Voters typically place these propositions on the ballot through petitions or legislative action.
It is not uncommon for supporters and opponents to spend money on advertising in order to influence public opinion on controversial issues.
What will be on my ballot?
Unlike the November 2022 election, the ballot will be quite short. Educational bonds, the election of city council members, and city issued bonds will make up the majority of the ballot.
The two most controversial topics are Proposition A and Proposition B dealing with the Austin Police Oversight Act. The propositions are nearly identical in language and are distinguished by the groups they are backed by.
What is Proposition A?
Proposition A is backed by Equity Action, a criminal justice reform group that focuses on racial equity in the judicial system in Austin. It intends to “deter police misconduct and brutality by strengthening the City’s system of independent and transparent civilian police oversight,” according to the election page on the official City of Austin website.
What is Proposition B?
Proposition B is backed by the Voters for Police Oversight and Accountability, a group that is funded by the Austin Police Association. In terms of language, it sounds remarkably similar, almost verbatim, to Proposition A. It aims to “strengthen the City’s system of independent and transparent civilian police oversight,” according to its original ordinance.
In a KVUE interview, Chris Harrons with Equity Action clarified that the primary difference between the two measures, besides the words “strengthening” and “strengthen,” is that Prop A attempts to make it possible for people to file anonymous complaints on a police officer. Voters for Oversight and Police Accountability said in the same interview that their aim is to increase police accountability with a focus on guaranteed due process.
Rewind to Fall 2022, when a group of unknown individuals were seen in West Campus gathering signatures for petitions relating to police oversight that many deemed deceiving due its language.“The City Clerk will not accept any requests to remove your name from the petition, regardless how you were deceived, after the organization behind it has turned in their signatures,” Equity Action said on their website.
When casting your vote, notice the group that each proposition is backed by whose mission aligns with your beliefs about police oversight.
Early voting for the May 6 election ends Tuesday.