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Elections and Voter Information

Voter Information

2014 Opportunity to Use Countywide Election Precincts Program

To: County Clerks/Elections Administrators in Counties Using Only DRE Voting Equipment
From: Keith Ingram, Director of Elections
Date: November 6, 2013
RE: Opportunity to Use Countywide Election Precincts Polling Places in Countywide Elections Held on March 4, 2014 Primary Election Date and on May 10, 2014 and November 4, 2014 Uniform Election Dates

This memorandum is to remind you of the availability of the countywide election precinct polling place program (“the program”) for the March 4, 2014 Primary Election date and the May 10, 2014 and November 4, 2014 Uniform Election dates.

Background

Under Section 43.007(i) of the Texas Election Code, the Secretary of State may select six counties with a population of 100,000 or more and four counties with a population of less than 100,000. Callahan, Coryell, Grayson, Jefferson, Lampasas. Randall, Victoria and Williamson Counties conducted elections using countywide precincts on the most recent November 2013 uniform election date. Additionally, the following “successful” designated counties conducted elections using countywide precincts on the November 2013 uniform election date: Collin, Eastland, Erath, Floyd, Gaines, Galveston, Lubbock, Madison, Midland, and Travis Counties.

Eligible counties may apply to use countywide polling places in the following elections: the primary election and run-off election, the general election for state and county officers, elections taking place on the uniform election date in May, a constitutional amendment election, and joint elections when holding any of the aforementioned elections with a local political subdivision (i.e., city, school district, etc.). Note that counties that have previously participated in the program, but have not been formally granted a “successful” designation in writing by the Secretary of State, must reapply to use the program for each election. 

Deadlines for submitting applications to participate in the program:

Briefly, the deadlines to submit your plans and requests (see further details about plans below) to participate in the countywide program for the March 4, 2014 Primary Election, the May 10, 2014 Uniform Election, and the November 4, 2014 Uniform Election are as follows:

Minimum Requirements

To be selected to participate in the program, each county must meet the following minimum requirements: (1) exclusive use of direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems at all polling places; (2) implementation of a computerized voter registration list that allows instantaneous verification that a voter has not already voted at another polling place; and (3) if the county has not participated in one of the previous countywide election precinct programs, it must hold a public hearing to inform and solicit opinions from voters, minority organizations, and other interested parties (e.g., political parties, political subdivisions within the county, and organizations representing voters with disabilities).  A transcript or electronic recording of the hearing must be submitted to the Secretary of State.  Although not required by statute, we encourage counties that have previously participated to conduct a new public hearing.

In addition, counties selected to participate in the program must adopt a methodology to determine the placement of the countywide polling places.  For an election held in the first year in which the county holds an election under the program, the total number of countywide polling places may not be less than 65% of the number of precinct polling places that would otherwise have been used in the last equivalent election.  For subsequent elections, this number drops to 50%.

Communication Plan Required

A selected county must also develop a plan for providing notice and informing voters of the program and of the changes made to the locations of election day polling places that will occur. At a minimum, an election day notice indicating the location of the nearest countywide polling place must be posted at each precinct polling place that was used in the last general election for state and county officers but will not be used in the election under this program. The county must solicit written input from organizations that represent minority voters and voters with disabilities. Input from local political entities is encouraged.

Submitting Applications

Election administrators in counties meeting the minimum requirements may submit an application in the form of a letter (with attachments) to request approval to participate in the countywide polling program.  Applications must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on the deadline date indicated for each election. Those dates are available in the memo. Applications should include the following items and provide information to support the following subject area as they relate to the county’s plan of action for implementing the countywide polling place program:

  1. A letter addressed to the Secretary of State requesting approval for the county to participate in the program. The letter must indicate the name and date of the election participation is being requested for. The items below may be addressed in the letter or addressed in separate attachments to the cover letter, but they must all be addressed.
    1. Address the county’s exclusive use of direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems in all polling places. Identify the vendor, quantity of voting machines and polling places to be used and how long the county has conducted elections with exclusive use of DRE voting machines.
    2. Explain the county’s implementation of a computerized voter registration list that allows for instantaneous verification that a voter has not already voted at another polling place. Identify steps taken to guarantee connectivity at each polling place and the county’s plan for dealing with a loss of connectivity during an election.
    3. Identify date and location of the public hearing, briefly describe the information provided at the public hearing and explain the feedback the presentation received. Attach audio or video disk copy of the public hearing as attachment. Paper transcripts are acceptable if audio or video copy is unavailable.
    4. Explain the methodology used to select polling locations. Include a map of county identifying locations of new and previously used voting locations, a list of vote centers and their addresses, and a list of vote center advisory committee members which includes the member’s name, organization, position and email address. For an election held in the first year in which the county holds an election under the program, the total number of countywide polling places may not be less than 65% of the number of precinct polling places that would otherwise have been used in the last equivalent election. For subsequent elections, this number drops to 50%. The Secretary of State encourages counties to form vote center advisory committees consisting of members from local political subdivisions, organizations that represent minority voters and voters with disabilities and precinct officials to obtain feedback on voting location changes.
    5. Explain the methodology for selection Election Judges and Alternate Election Judges.
    6. Explain how voters will be notified of the change to vote centers and of the new locations. A selected county must develop a communication plan for providing notice and informing voters of the program and of the changes made to the locations of election day polling places that will occur. At a minimum, an election day notice indicating the location of the nearest countywide polling place must be posted at each precinct polling place that was used in the last general election for state and county officers but will not be used in the election under this program. The county must solicit written input from organizations that represent minority voters and voters with disabilities. Input from local political entities is encouraged.
    7. Demonstrate that the details of local joint elections have been resolved. Local political subdivisions may hold a joint election with a participating county. Political subdivisions in participating counties would need to have a presence at each of the countywide polling places at which its voters would be eligible to appear, either through a joint election with the county or establishing its own polling place at each of the locations. Counties that wish to participate in the program will need to demonstrate that the details of local joint elections have been resolved or at least that the governing bodies have agreed that they will resolve such issues. This can be achieved with letters of support from other community organizations and local political subdivisions that would use countywide polling places if they were conducting a joint election.
    8. Counties that wish to participate in the countywide program will need to demonstrate that the county commissioner’s court and the county chairs have resolved how polling place officials will be appointed.  Explain how polling place officials will be selected.
  2. A letter signed by the County Judge indicating support of the county’s plan and requesting approval for the county to implement countywide polling places throughout the county.

  3. Finally, Section 43.007(j) requires the Office of the Secretary of State to file a report with the Legislature concerning the countywide program, including a recommendation on the future use of countywide precinct polling places not later than January 1st of each odd-numbered year.  All counties that participate in the program will be expected to contribute their specific findings after each election held with countywide precincts, which will be included in the report. The report pertaining to the November 2011 and 2012 elections has been filed with the Legislature and can be found online.

Below are the detailed schedules for implementing countywide election precincts for the March 4, 2014 Primary Election and for the May 10, 2014 and November 4, 2014 uniform election dates.

Schedule for implementing countywide election precincts for March 4, 2014 Primary election:

Schedule for implementing countywide election precincts for May 10, 2014 election:

Schedule for implementing countywide election precincts for November 4, 2014 election:

If you are interested in participating or if you need more information, please contact Juanita Woods or call our office toll-free at 1-800-252-2216.