State Approves Travis County Vote Centers for November Trial

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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.

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Former Publisher & Owner of the Burnt Orange Report. Political Thinker, Digital Explorer, and Time Traveler.

2 Comments

  1. This is great, especially for young people.
    Many people, especially the young, move frequently and this will do a lot to make sure they can vote.  There have been seen several instances where I've tried to help someone who wants to vote but can't get to their voting place in time.  For example on election day students who live off campus but are planning on staying in the campus area until late in the day.

    Sometimes depending on the precinct the polling location of a neighboring precinct is more convenient than yours.  Or it makes more sense to vote near your work, like on your lunch break.

  2. This November is really a trial run
    where we can see how well vote centers really work. The hope is that we can learn from experience in a small-scale election, work out the kinks, and have everything ready for November 2012. The upside if things work well is big, and in a decade we'll probably think of the switch to vote centers as a no-brainer decision, but there are some short-term problems to be overcome.

    One difficulty is that vote centers are only authorized for general elections, not for primaries. This could cause some confusion in March, and then again in November. If they eventually get authorized for primaries, we'll have to figure out when/how to run precinct conventions.

    Dana DeBeauvoir has a great team in the Elections Division; I have a lot of confidence in their ability to tackle these difficulties.  

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