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What to know about the differences between Prop A and Prop B this election

The only language that separates these two oversight measures is the groups that back each one and a phrase referring to police misconduct and brutality.

AUSTIN, Texas — Early voting for the May 6 election kicked off on April 24 with two items on the ballot that share similarities but also many differences.

The only language that separates Austin oversight measures Proposition A and Proposition B is the groups that back each one and a phrase referring to police misconduct and brutality.

"The only reason that you come behind a ballot measure that's already on the ballot and give it the same name and the same description is to try to intentionally confuse people," said Chris Harris with Equity Action.

Harris' group Equity Action is behind Prop A. He said it would open access to police personnel records, give Austin's Community Police Review Commission more information and prohibit officers from filing grievances against the Office of Police Oversight and the Civilian Review Panel.

"I would say one other really important distinction between the two ballot measures is anonymous complaints – the ability for people to submit a complaint or a compliment of a police officer without having to reveal their identity," Harris said.

Meanwhile, Voters for Oversight and Police Accountability (VOPA), the group behind Prop B, claims its measure would increase police accountability.

"Everyone has the right to due process. The VOPA Austin Police Oversight Act will guarantee due process for both police officers and those who interact with them. The Act will make sure investigations into police misconduct will be carried out fairly, thoroughly, and without bias," VOPA's website said.

However, those for Prop B say Prop A would go against state law.

In a statement from February, Thomas Villarreal, the president of Austin's police union, wrote in part, "Prop A is fraught with legal issues that Equity Action, City Council and the City Manager know about. This is the sole reason Equity Action included a severability clause in their ordinance. They know parts of it are illegal for the City of Austin to act on if Prop A passes."

KVUE reached out to Villarreal multiple times on Monday for an interview or statement to clarify but never heard back.

But there is a proposal at the Texas Legislature, Senate Bill 2209, that would prohibit civilian review panels from investigating allegations of police misconduct.

"They're instead going to go around the back of Austin voters and try to get the Legislature to simply preempt the thing that they don't feel like they can defeat at the polls," Harris said.

Harris said if both Prop A and Prop B pass, it could lead to contradictions.

"It's almost certain that Prop A that strengthens police oversight will not be able to be implemented in full because something that also passed says the exact opposite," Harris said.

Election Day is May 6. Before you head to the polls, check out our KVUE voter guide.

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