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Summary: HB 127 amends part of the Election Code for counties with a population of less than 300,000 that contain a city with a population of more than 200,000. For the counties that that includes, the Election Code is modified to give private businesses more control over a polling place located on their property. Currently, electioneering is not permitted within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling site, but a site may not host polling if the owner of the building is not going to permit electioneering on the premises at all. HB 127 would allow private business owners to host a polling center but also not allow electioneering on the property. This would only apply in the bracketed counties and only apply if no public location is available for polling. The business owner would have to notify the election authority if they planned to prohibit electioneering on the property prior to election day.
Analysis: When polling places are located in shopping malls, the electioneering that takes place within the shopping mall but outside of the 100 foot prohibited electioneering perimeter may disrupt commerce for the nearby shops. To the extent that this legislation would allow the owners of a shopping mall to prohibit electioneering beyond the current 100 foot perimeter, HB 127 may provide a marginal benefit to the affected business owners.
However, in choosing to allow a polling place to be set up on their property, the business owners must consent to abiding by the laws that apply to other polling places. In order to maintain free and fair elections, the law should be applied evenly to all polling places. Creating special election laws for certain polling places impedes the right of people to support their candidate of choice beyond the current 100 foot perimeter.
We oppose HB 127.