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Report: Police oversight voter initiative disqualified from Austin's November ballot

Equity Action submitted 33,000 signatures on Aug. 8. But they submitted them too late.

AUSTIN, Texas — A political action group's efforts to get a police oversight voter initiative on Austin's November ballot have been halted for now.

A voter initiative needs 20,000 voter signatures to get a measure on a ballot. Equity Action said on Aug. 9 that it had collected more than 33,000 signatures on its petition in support of the "Police Oversight Act," which, if passed, would create a local law governing the City of Austin's Office of Police Oversight and Community Police Review Commission, removing them from contract negotiations with the police union. 

Equity Action delivered the signatures to the city clerk on Aug. 8 – but that was too late, according to a report from KVUE's media partners at the Austin American-Statesman.

The Statesman reports that last Thursday – a day before the deadline to order a meeting for the city council to schedule the election – the city clerk's office said it had not yet completed the verification process.

According to the report, to be included on the November ballot, a random sample of just over 8,000 signatures had to be validated. The clerk's office reportedly said it had counted only half of that sample.

"To be told the city clerk’s office won’t be able to place the Austin Police Oversight Act on this November’s ballot is disappointing. However, over 33,000 people signed a petition demanding major reforms to our police oversight system, and that says it all,” Kathy Mitchell, treasurer of Equity Action, said in a statement to the Statesman.

Equity Action said it will continue to move forward with its efforts to push for police accountability. The Statesman reports that the city clerk's office will continue to count the signatures, and, if verified, Equity Action's proposal remains eligible for the May 2023 election. 

However, a ballot measure won't be needed if the councilmembers approve the recommendations outright, according to the Statesman. Equity Action has asked the council to do just that.

To learn more, read the Statesman's full report.

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