Hays County Commissioners and Election Administrator Jennifer Anderson are moving forward in two areas to improve future elections.
The Commissioners Court has approved petitioning the state to pilot the use of Vote Centers in the county. They are also considering purchase of one of the two voting machines certified by the state for use in Vote Centers.
To inform voters about these upcoming changes, the League of Women Voters of Hays County will hold a forum on April 4, 2019, starting at 6:00 PM at the Hays County Government Center, 712 S. Stagecoach Trail in San Marcos. This meeting is free and open to the public and they are encouraged to attend.
“This would eliminate confusion among voters who might not know which polling place they can vote at on Election Day, and, instead, would allow residents to cast their ballot at any polling place in the county, as is allowed during early voting,” Anderson said of the Vote Centers. “[They] would also offer people the ability to vote in places that are convenient to them. Maybe there’s a polling place a mile from their home, but it’s not in their precinct—they could still go there.” According to Ms. Anderson, Vote Centers should significantly reduce the number of provisional ballots cast in an election.
If the Secretary of State approves, Vote Centers may be in place as soon as this November’s vote on constitutional amendments so they can be familiar to voters prior to the next presidential election.
Two models of voting machines meet state criteria for use in Vote Centers, to be able to accurately pull together ballots for races from all the different jurisdictions under which candidates are running. Voting machines for Vote Centers have a larger variety of races they must be able to handle than those at precinct polling locations.
During the Thursday, April 4, forum on “Safeguarding Voting Rights in Hays County,” Elections Administrator Jennifer Anderson, and Alex Villalobos, Chief of Staff to County Judge Ruben Becerra, will provide information about the county’s process and other considerations regarding the use of the Vote Centers.
A panel of representatives of counties that rolled out vote centers recently (Guadalupe County), several years ago (Travis County), as well as another county (Comal County) currently considering the use of Vote Centers will provide a broad perspective on the process and potential difficulties that could arise.
Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, Guadalupe County Elections Administrator Lisa Hayes, and Comal County Elections Coordinator Cynthia Jaqua are scheduled as panelists.
LWV Hays County Program Chair Dorothy Knight said, “We look forward to this event to work with county governments to shed some light on upcoming changes in the electoral process.”
The League of Women Voters is a national nonpartisan organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influence public policy through education and advocacy.
The organization comprises over 800 state and local Leagues. Since 1920 nationally and 1919 in Texas, they have been an activist, grassroots organization whose leaders believe that voters should play a critical role in democracy.