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Vote Centers Could Increase Election Turnout

Guadalupe County switched to vote centers during the November 2017 general election. Image of Guadalupe County Election Center courtesy of KWED 1580 AM Radio, Seguin.

Experts are trying to find ways to increase early voter turnout in Texas.

The League of Women Voters-Comal Area (LWV-CA) says making it easier for voters to find a polling place that’s convenient and easy to remember might be one way to get numbers up.

Nearby Guadalupe County chose vote centers over precinct-specific polling locations like Comal County’s during the Nov. 7, 2017 general election, and the League thinks Comal County should consider doing so, too.

They invite the public to attend a discussion of vote centers at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6 at Tye Preston Memorial Library, 16311 S. Access Rd., Canyon Lake.

Guadalupe County elections experts will be on hand to explain how vote centers worked for their county.

Lisa Adam, Guadalupe County Elections administrator; Duane McCune, Guadalupe County Democratic Party chair; and Terry Harper, Guadalupe County Republican Party Precinct 105 chair and Guadalupe County GOP Executive Committee member, also will answer questions.

Texas has permitted counties to switch to countywide vote centers since 2009, and 55 counties now use them.

Cynthia Jacqua, Comal County Elections coordinator, said she favors using vote centers, too.

However, in 2015, Comal County commissioners scheduled a workshop to consider their use but dropped the idea after receiving negative feedback.

“The commissioners were all in favor but the political parties had problems,” said Roxanna Deane, president of LWV-CA. “Comal runs primary elections for the Democrats and Republicans so they get to have a say.”

Jacqua said residents who would like the county to reconsider its decision should take the matter up with their county commissioner or County Judge Sherman Krause.

LWV-CA Supports Vote Centers

Deane explains why:

“Voters who want to vote on election day must now find the polling location that matches their voting precinct. This is not something every voter remembers year to year as they may have early voted in an election or did not vote at all. The county and secretary of state can help a voter find their location, but it is not always convenient.

“With so many people commuting to work or driving children to school, it sometimes would be easier to vote at a location that is along their route. This is what changing to countywide voting centers instead of specific precinct polling locations would make that possible.

“The League of Women Voters believes that making this switch would cut down on the frustration of voters and poll workers and encourage more people to vote. Since the county has the electronic polling books, it doesn’t really matter where you vote. Just like early voting, the system can verify anyone as a registered voter and know that the ballot has been cast. The League doesn’t see any downside to this method.”

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