The Dallas Morning News’ recent article cited the “overwhelming” voter approval of historically large bond packages, including those in Arlington, Frisco and Cypress-Fairbanks schools districts.  Those three amounted to $2.6 billion in new debt, excluding interest expense, or roughly one-third of all new debt on May’s ballot, state-wide.

The public support of these debt proposals appears convincing…at least on the surface.

Most voters are unaware of the clever methods educrats use to stack the deck in their favor. One of the most underreported schemes is the use of “rolling polling”, whereby the district will move polling locations during early voting to target certain populations and discourage general turnout.

Low turnout overall ensures that the minority of beneficiaries of the bond will make up a higher percentage of those voting.  And by moving polling locations from campus to campus, the district ensures that a higher number of those who want the bond to pass (district employees & booster parents) will actually vote, due to a combination of district promotion and practical convenience.

It seems logical, for example, that more people in your office would vote if the government setup a polling location inside the break-room.

For those not yet convinced, let’s examine the voting data from Frisco ISD.

Early voting lasted a total of eight days.  During that time, only nine non-campus voting locations were open to voters for the entire period.  The other locations moved across forty-nine school campuses, with each campus only hosting voters for a single day.  In other words, although multiple schools served as a polling location on any given day, each campus was open for only one day per location.

Elections typically have half of ballots cast during early voting, with the other half of voters casting ballots on Election Day. But over 82% of ballots cast in the FISD bond election were submitted during early voting.

And of the 7,600 early votes cast, about 70% of those came from “rolling-polling” campus locations.

In other words, over 55% of total votes cast were the result of ballots collected across 49 different school campuses.  Interestingly, there was a large discrepancy in election results between the “rolling-polling” of early voting and Election Day, where the voting locations were fixed.

During early voting, the measure was supported with 81% of the vote, with only 19% opposed.  On Election Day, only 55% of voters supported the measure, with 45% opposed.

In fact, 51.5% of Denton County voters rejected the measure on Election Day, despite 82% of early voters supporting the bond.

Additionally, a much higher percentage of “YES” voters (88%) cast their ballots during “rolling-polling”, which suggests that the rolling-polling scheme targets likely supporters.  Only 66% of “NO” voters cast their ballots during this period.

The impact of this scheme couldn’t be any clearer. 

Although twice as many votes were cast during early voting at “rolling-polling” locations versus those that were fixed (5300 vs 2365), the measure passed at a ratio of over 4 to 1, which all but proves voter targeting.  This is particularly compelling when Election Day results were split 55/45 in slight favor of passage.

For the purposes of aiding turnout and voter convenience, TFR already advocates that local elections be held on a uniform election date that coincides with other, more high profile elections.  And even if local races remain non-partisan, that wouldn’t prevent them from appearing on the same ballot with other races.

It’s now become clear that other reforms need to be made. 

Rolling-polling, or voter targeting, should be abolished and replaced with uniform polling locations for all elections.  After all, even though districts are prohibited from using taxpayer dollars to promote a “YES” vote, that doesn’t stop them from hiring outside firms to launch rosy P.R. campaigns instead.

Allowing elections to be held at biased locations inside of buildings owned by the institution supporting the measure is ridiculous on face.  More importantly, it’s one more crucial reason why Texans need to be actively involved in choosing who represents them at all levels of government!

After all, these reforms require changes in state statute, and the ultimate debt prevention measure, is to ensure that the officials elected to serve on local boards are good stewards of your hard-earned tax dollars.

Unlike federal taxes, all of us bear the cost of local government.

Ross Kecseg

Ross Kecseg was the president of Texas Scorecard. He passed away in 2020. A native North Texan, he was raised in Denton County. Ross studied Economics at Arizona State University with an emphasis on Public Policy and U.S. Constitutional history. Ross was an avid golfer, automotive enthusiast, and movie/music junkie. He was a loving husband and father.