The Texas Secretary of State has notified county officials that Travis County's application to implement Vote Centers in the November 2011 election has been approved. Vote centers, or countywide polling place programs, allow voters in approved counties to vote at any polling place on Election Day – in the same manner as Early Voting.
“Allowing Election Day voters to cast a ballot at any polling place in the county is a key step toward ensuring that all votes will be counted,” DeBeauvoir said. “We are grateful that we can offer this option to Travis County voters.”
The next step in the process will be to submit information concerning this change in voting procedure to the U.S. Department of Justice for preclearance under Section 5 of the Federal Voting Rights Act. DeBeauvoir said her office plans to maintain the same number of voting sites typically used in a comparable election. This moderate approach will turn all Election Day polling places into vote centers – with no widespread reduction in polls, as has been the case in other county programs.
“We will encourage voters to vote at their home precincts, but those who have tight schedules or get stuck in traffic on their way home will be able to vote at any location that is convenient,” DeBeauvoir said.
Vote centers also will eliminate the problem of voters showing up at the “wrong” polling place, because any polling place will be the right place to vote. As in Early Voting, the County Clerk will ensure voting security and prevent the possibility of duplicate voting by instantly updating voter records to indicate when a voter has cast a ballot in the election.
Following the election, the County Clerk will submit a report to the Secretary of State on the effectiveness of the program. Statements from various stakeholders including voters and community interest groups will be included. Based on community opinion, the County Clerk and Commissioners Court will decide if vote centers should be continued for future November elections.