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Elections and Voter Information

Voter Information

Report to the 84th Legislature Under Section 43.007(j), Texas Election Code Relating to the Countywide Polling Place Program

Brief Overview

This report is submitted in accordance with Section 43.007(j) of the Texas Election Code, (“the Code”) which requires the Secretary of State to file a report with the Texas Legislature no later than the first day of each odd-numbered year regarding specific complaints or concerns filed with the office of the Secretary of State related to counties participating in the countywide election day polling places program (“Program”) for the 2013/2014 election year cycle. Under the Program, counties were eligible to apply to use countywide voting locations (also known as "super precincts" or "vote centers") for elections held on the November 2013 and 2014 uniform election dates, the March 2014 primary election and May 2014 runoff primary election and elections held countywide on the May uniform election date, instead of providing polling places at each regular county election precinct. Participation in the Program is limited to those counties that exclusively use direct recording electronic ("DRE") voting systems and provide a computerized and linked voter registration list at each countywide polling place.

Background

House Bill 758 was enacted by the 79th Texas Legislature and required the Secretary of State to establish a pilot program in one or more counties as a test of the countywide voting location concept. Lubbock County was the only county to participate, successfully running a countywide polling place pilot for the November 2006 General Election for State and County Officers. In the next regular legislative session, the 80th Texas Legislature enacted House Bill 3105, authorizing another pilot program for the 2008 election year. The pilot was limited to elections held countywide on the May uniform election date and the November 4, 2008 General Election for State and County Officers, excluding the March and April 2008 Primary Elections. House Bill 3105 contained a number of changes from the previous legislation. Specifically, it added language requiring the county to adopt a methodology for determining its polling place locations and limited participating counties to reducing the total number of polling places to no more than fifty percent of the number of precinct polling places that would normally be used in the county. Only Lubbock and Erath Counties participated in the House Bill 3105 program.

House Bill 719 was enacted by the 81st Texas Legislature, and it made the pilot program permanent. It added language requiring a county to retain 65 percent of the number of precinct polling places that would normally have been used in its elections in the county’s first election using countywide polling places. Additionally, House Bill 719 limited the Secretary of State to choosing three counties with a population of 100,000 or more and two counties with a population of less than 100,000 for each election under the pilot program. (House Bill 2194, enacted in the 82nd Legislature, increased the number of counties in the Program to six counties with populations of 100,000 or more and four counties with populations of less than 100,000.) Finally, House Bill 719 required the Secretary of State to continue the countywide election day polling places program for the 2009/2010 election cycle. Under the Program, counties were eligible to apply to use countywide voting locations (also known as "super precincts" or "vote centers") for elections held on the November 2009 and 2010 uniform election dates and for elections held countywide on the May uniform election date, instead of providing polling places at each regular county election precinct. Participation in the Program was limited to those counties that exclusively used direct recording electronic ("DRE") voting systems and provided a computerized and linked voter registration list at each countywide polling place.

Four counties were selected for the November 3, 2009 uniform election date: Collin, Erath, Galveston, and Lubbock Counties. Four counties were selected for the November 2, 2010 General Election for State and County Officers: Collin, Erath, Lubbock and Madison Counties. Each county was required to file a report with the Secretary of State regarding the implementation in their county, and all the county reports will be available on the Secretary of State website.

Senate Bill 578 was enacted by the 83rd Texas Legislature, and expanded the program for use in each primary election and runoff primary election if the county chair or county executive for each political party participating in a joint primary election under Section 172.126 of the Texas Election Code agreed to the use of countywide polling places; or the county chair or county executive committee of each political party required to nominate candidates by primary election agreed to the use of the same countywide polling places.

“Successful” Countywide Precinct Program

House Bill 2194, enacted by the 82nd Texas Legislature, created a new process for counties that have used the countywide election precinct method of voting. Prior law required counties to apply to use countywide election precincts election-by-election. The change adds Section 43.007(k) (2) to the Code to allow counties to move forward in using countywide election precincts without approval from the Secretary of State.

To date, nineteen Texas counties applied for and met the Secretary of State’s requirements for the “successful” countywide precinct polling place designation. They include Callahan County, Collin County, Coryell County, Eastland County, Erath County, Floyd County, Gaines County, Galveston County, Grayson County, Jefferson County, Lampasas County, Lubbock County, Madison County, Midland County, Randall County, Swisher County, Travis County, Victoria County, and Williamson County.

Implementation of Current Program

Eight counties were selected for the November 5, 2013 uniform election date: Callahan County, Coryell County, Grayson County, Jefferson County, Lampasas County, Randall County, Victoria County and Williamson County.  Five counties were selected for the March 4, 2014 primary election date: Callahan County, Jefferson County, Randall County, Swisher County and Wharton County. Four counties were selected for the May 27, 2014 runoff primary election: Callahan County, Randall County, Swisher County and Wharton County. Seven counties were selected for the November 4, 2014 general election: McLennan County, Montague County, Navarro County, Rusk County, Taylor County, Tom Green County and Wharton County. Each of these counties was required to file a report with the Office of the Secretary of State regarding the implementation of their countywide polling locations.  

Countywide Precinct Polling Place Program Participants

Callahan County

According to the 2010 Census, Callahan County’s population is 13,544.

November 5, 2013

Callahan County’s initial election under the program was the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election. Prior to participating in the program, Callahan County had 7 county election polling places.  In the Constitutional Amendment Election held on November 8, 2011, the county used 5 county election polling places after consolidating precincts under Section 42.008 of the Code. For the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election, the county used 6 countywide election day polling places.

Turnout Trends

Callahan County used 6 vote centers on election day for the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election. An analysis of turnout trends for constitutional elections in 2011 and 2013 points to an increase in voter turnout over those years. Reports indicate a 5.19% turnout of registered voters for 2011, compared to 8.11% in 2013 for the Constitutional Amendment Election.

Public Feedback

After the election, the county solicited feedback from county election officials and voters on the institution of the program in the county. The election report contains emails and letters from the officials and voters praising the institution of the program. Voter emails indicated overall support for the countywide vote centers citing that it increased voter convenience while decreasing voter confusion regarding where to vote. No major issues were reported on the county’s use of the program for the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election.

March 4, 2014

Callahan County’s second election under the program was the March 4, 2014 Primary Election. Callahan County used 6 election day vote centers for the March 4, 2014 Primary Election. The county created a Facebook page and used additional newspaper resources to further educate the voters on the use of the program for the Primary Election.

Turnout Trends

An analysis of Callahan County turnout trends for primary elections in 2012 and 2014 points to a disparity in voter turnouts for those years. This may or may not be related to the issues on the ballot with 2012 being a Presidential Primary Election. Reports indicate a 24.72% turnout of voters for 2012, compared to a 19.46% turnout for voters in 2014 for the Primary Election.

Public Feedback

After the election, the county again solicited feedback from county officials and voters. The election report contains emails and letters from the officials and voters reiterating the fact that the program provided voters more convenience in being able to vote at any polling location. The feedback also indicated that frustration and confusion had continued to decrease because voters no longer had to travel to a specific polling location.

Callahan County applied for “successful” status and was designated as a “successful” county under the program on September 4, 2014.

Coryell County

According to the 2010 Census, Coryell County’s population is 75,388.

November 5, 2013

Coryell County’s initial election under the program was the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election. Prior to participating in the program, Coryell County had 16 polling places. In the Constitutional Amendment Election held on November 8, 2011, the county used 5 county election polling places after consolidating precincts under Section 42.008 of the Code. For the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election, the county used 10 countywide election day polling places.

Turnout Trends

Coryell County used 10 vote centers on election day for the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election. An analysis of Coryell County turnout trends for constitutional amendment elections in 2011 and 2013 shows a very slight increase in turnout. Reports indicate a 4.1% turnout of registered voters for 2011, compared to a 4.7% turnout in 2013 for the Constitutional Amendment Election.

Public Feedback

Coryell County requested feedback from voters via a survey as voters left the polling place on election day. The response to the use of the program was almost exclusively positive with voters commending the county on the ease and convenience of voting at any countywide location. However, some voters did comment that they preferred the use of paper ballots to electronic voting systems.

Coryell County applied for “successful” status and was designated as a “successful” county under the program on January 21, 2014.

Grayson County

According to the 2010 Census, Grayson County’s population is 120,877.

November 5, 2013

Grayson County’s initial election under the program was the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election. Prior to participating in the program, Grayson County had 17 polling places. In the Constitutional Amendment Election held on November 8, 2011, the county used 17 county election polling places. For the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election, the county used 22 countywide election day polling places.

Turnout Trends

Grayson County used 22 vote centers on election day for the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election. An analysis of Grayson County turnout trends for constitutional amendment elections in 2011 and 2013 shows an increase in voter totals over those years. Reports indicate a 5.18% turnout of registered voters for 2011, compared to a 7.37% turnout in 2013 for the Constitutional Amendment Election.

Public Feedback

Following the election, Grayson County solicited feedback from county officials, election judges and clerks and voters. The feedback on the county’s use of the program was very positive. The election report contains emails and letters with officials, judges and clerks and voters stating that they felt the change to the countywide program was positive because it gave voters the freedom to choose a polling place on election day that was the most convenient location.

Grayson County applied for “successful” status and was designated as a “successful” county under the program on January 14, 2014.

Jefferson County

According to the 2010 Census, Jefferson County’s population is 252,273.

November 5, 2013

Jefferson County’s initial election under the program was the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election. Prior to participating in the program, Jefferson County had 57 polling places. In the Constitutional Amendment Election held on November 8, 2011, the county used 57 county election polling places. For the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election, the county elected to keep those 57 polling places as countywide election day polling places.

Turnout Trends

Jefferson County used 57 vote centers on election day for the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election. An analysis of Jefferson County turnout trends for constitutional amendment elections in 2011 and 2013 shows a very slight decrease in voter totals over those years. Reports indicate a 2.71% turnout of registered voters for 2011, compared to a 2.12% turnout in 2013 for the Constitutional Amendment Election.

Public Feedback

Following the election, Jefferson County solicited feedback from voters and minority groups regarding the impact of the countywide polling place program. The feedback that the county received was very positive. The election report contains emails and letters with voters and minority groups stating that they believed the countywide program was very convenient for voters and would ultimately save the county time and money in future elections. The feedback also iterated that this would allow many more voters to cast a ballot that would actually be counted as opposed to a provisional ballot that may be rejected because the voter voted in the wrong precinct.

March 4, 2014

Jefferson County’s second election under the program was the March 4, 2014 Primary Election. Jefferson County used 53 election day vote centers for the primary election.

Turnout Trends

Jefferson County used 53 vote centers on election day for the March 4, 2014 Primary Election. An analysis of Jefferson County’s turnout trends for primary elections in 2012 and 2014 shows a decrease in voter totals over those years. Reports indicate a 20.03% turnout of registered voters for 2012, compared to a 15.96% turnout in 2014 for the Primary Election. Again, the difference in turnout may or may not be explained by the issues on the ballot with 2012 being a Presidential Primary Election.

Public Feedback

Following the election, Jefferson County again solicited feedback from voters as well as minority groups, the county chairs for each political party in the county and county officials on the impact of the program for the primary election. The election report contains e-mails and letters from these individuals. The feedback demonstrates more support for the county’s use of the program and cites voter convenience, a decrease in voter frustration and a decrease in the number of provisional ballots cast as reasons to support the program.

Jefferson County applied for “successful” status and was designated as a “successful” county under the program on April 1, 2014.

Lampasas County

According to the 2010 Census, Lampasas County’s population is 19,677.

November 5, 2013

Lampasas County’s initial election under the program was the November 6, 2012 General Election. The county continued use of the program for the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election. Prior to participating in the program, Lampasas County had 10 voting precincts. This was reduced to 9 precincts in 2012 following redistricting. The county used 10 precinct polling places in the Constitutional Amendment Election held on November 8, 2011. For the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election, the county used 6 polling places.

Turnout Trends

Lampasas County used 6 vote centers on election day for the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election. An analysis of Lampasas County turnout trends for constitutional amendment elections in 2011 and 2013 shows a significant increase in voter turnout totals over those years. Reports indicate a 8.11% turnout for registered voters in 2011, compared to a 13.39% turnout for registered voters in 2013.

Public Feedback

Following Lampasas County’s initial election under the program in November of 2012, the county participated in a public hearing of the county commissioner’s court regarding continued use of the program. The overall feedback provided at the hearing was in support of the county’s continued use of the program.

Lampasas County applied for “successful” status and was designated as a “successful” county under the program on January 21, 2014.

Randall County

According to the 2010 Census, Randall County’s population is 120,725.

November 5, 2013

Randall County’s initial election under the program was the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election. Prior to participating in the program, Randall County had 22 voting precincts. The county used 14 polling places in the Constitutional Amendment Election held on November 8, 2011. For the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election, the county elected to continue to use 14 polling places. However, 10 of the 14 polling places selected were used in November of 2011 while the remaining 4 were polling places from the general election in November of 2012.

Turnout Trends

Randall County used 14 vote centers on election day for the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election. An analysis of Randall County turnout trends for constitutional amendment elections in 2011 and 2013 shows a significant increase in voter totals over those years. Reports indicate a 5.49% turnout for registered voters in 2011, compared to a 14.76% turnout for registered voters in 2013. The county attributes much of this increase to the fact that the City of Amarillo added a $31.5 million bond election and 21 charter amendments to the ballot for the election.

Public Feedback

Following the election, Randall County solicited feedback from election day judges on the impact of countywide polling places on the Constitutional Amendment Election. The election report contains e-mails and letters from these individuals. Overall, the feedback from the judges was positive. Many of the judges cited that not having to turn voters away for being in the wrong polling places as a positive for the program. The feedback also iterated that voters were pleased with the convenience of being able to vote at any polling location.

March 4, 2014

Randall County’s second election under the program was the March 4, 2014 Primary Election. Randall County again used the 14 polling places for the Primary Election that had previously been used in the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election.

Turnout Trends

Randall County used 14 vote centers on election day for the March 4, 2014 Primary Election. An analysis of Randall County turnout trends for primary elections in 2012 and 2014 shows a slight increase in voter totals over those years. Reports indicate a 16.78% turnout for registered voters in 2012, compared to a 18.19% turnout for registered voters in 2014.

Public Feedback

Randall County again solicited feedback from election day judges as well as individuals affiliated with both parties that held primary elections in the county on March 4, 2014. The election report contains e-mails and letters from these individuals. Once again, the feedback was supportive of the use of the countywide polling place program in Randall County. Much of the feedback indicated that the program was the best course of action for voter convenience in that voters did not have to be turned away for being at the wrong polling location.

Randall County applied for “successful” status and was designated as a “successful” county under the program on August 6, 2014.

Victoria County

According to the 2010 Census, Victoria County’s population is 86,793.

November 5, 2013

Victoria County’s initial election under the program was the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election. Prior to participating in the program, Victoria County had 35 voting precincts. For the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election, the county utilized all 35 voting precincts as countywide polling places and established an additional countywide polling place at the main early voting location for a total of 36 vote centers on election day.

Turnout Trends

Victoria County used 36 vote centers on election day for the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election. An analysis of Victoria County turnout trends for constitutional amendment elections in 2011 and 2013 shows a significant increase in voter turnout over those years. Reports indicate a 4.55% turnout for registered voters in 2011, compared with a 7.80% turnout for registered voters in 2013.

Public Feedback

Following the election, Victoria County solicited feedback from county officials and the county chair of each political party in the county on the impact of the countywide polling place program for this election. All parties who provided feedback expressed support for the county’s continued use of the program and county officials believed the program provided convenience for voters who could vote in any location rather than having to travel to a specific precinct.

Victoria County applied for “successful” status and was designated as a “successful” county under the program on January 17, 2014.

Williamson County

According to the 2010 Census, Williamson County’s population is 422,679.

November 5, 2013

Williamson County’s initial election under the program was the May 11, 2013 uniform election date. Prior to participating in the program, Williamson County had 88 voting precincts. The November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election was the county’s second election under the program. The county used 60 locations as vote centers on election day for the Constitutional Amendment Election.

Turnout Trends

Williamson County used 60 vote centers on election day for the November 5, 2013 Constitutional Amendment Election. An analysis of Williamson County turnout trends for constitutional amendment elections in 2011 and 2013 shows an increase in voter turnout over those years. Reports indicate a 4.0% turnout for registered voters in 2011, compared to a 6.6% turnout for registered voters in 2013.

Public Feedback

Following the election, Williamson County solicited feedback from interest groups, county officials and voters on the impact of the program in the Constitutional Amendment Election. The county received positive feedback from all groups. Many individuals highlighted the fact that the program served voter convenience by allowing voters to vote at any polling place.

Williamson County applied for “successful” status and was designated as a “successful” county under the program on March 14, 2014.

Swisher County

According to the 2010 Census, Swisher County’s population is 7,854.

March 4, 2014

Swisher County’s initial election under the program was the November 6, 2012 General Election. Prior to participating in the program, Swisher County had 8 voting precincts. The March 4, 2014 primary election was the county’s second election under the program. The county used 4 locations as vote centers on election day for the Primary Election.

Turnout Trends

Swisher County used 4 vote centers on election day for the March 4, 2014 primary election. An analysis of Swisher County’s turnout trends for primary elections in 2012 and 2014 shows a very slight increase in voter turnout over those years. Reports indicate a .14% turnout for registered voters in 2012, compared to a .16% turnout for registered voters in 2014.

Public Feedback

Following the election, Swisher County solicited feedback from voters regarding the county’s use of the countywide polling place program. Feedback towards the program was positive with voters informing the county that countywide polling made it possible for some voters to vote who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to do so. Voters also informed the county that vote centers made it more convenient to cast a ballot and the public wanted the county to continue with the program in the future.

Swisher County applied for “successful” status and was designated as a “successful” county under the program on August 20, 2014.

Wharton County

According to the 2010 Census, Wharton County’s population is 41,280.

March 4, 2014

Wharton County’s initial election under the program was the March 4, 2014 Primary Election. Prior to participating in the program, Wharton County had 12 voting precincts. For the March 4, 2014 Primary Election, the county used 8 vote centers.

Turnout Trends

Wharton County used 8 vote centers on election day for the March 4, 2014 Primary Election. Wharton County did not submit any voter turnout data on the previous primary election in 2012. However, the county did submit voter turnout data for the primary election in 2010. An analysis of turnout trends for the primary elections in 2010 and 2014 shows a significant decrease in voter turnout over those years. Reports indicate a 14.74% turnout for registered voters in 2010, compared to a 8.46% turnout for registered voters in 2014. This may or may not be related to issues on the ballot.

Public Feedback

Following the election, Wharton County solicited feedback from voters and the county chairs of both political parties in the primary election. The election report contains letters from these individuals. Response to the county’s use of the program was positive with both county chairs stating that the use of the program made it more convenient for voters to vote anywhere rather than returning to a specific precinct. The feedback also mentioned that costs for the county would be reduced with the closure of some polling places.

November 4, 2014

Wharton County’s second election under the program was the November 4, 2014 General Election. The county again used 8 polling places as vote centers during the election. In addition, the county visited local organizations and published information in the newspaper to spread the word about participation in the program.

Turnout Trends

Wharton County used 8 vote centers on election day for the November 4, 2014 General Election. Again, the county did not submit any voter turnout data on the previous general election from 2012, but the county did submit voter turnout data from the general election in 2010. An analysis of the turnout trends from the general elections in 2010 and 2014 shows a very slight increase in voter turnout over those years. Reports indicate a 16.01% turnout for registered voters in 2010, compared to a 16.32% turnout for registered voters in 2014.

Public Feedback

Following the election, Wharton County solicited feedback from election workers on the continued use of the program in the county. The election workers indicated that they were very pleased with the program and the fact that voters could be serviced at any location on election day without being turned away. The feedback from the election workers also supported the county’s further participation in the program.

Mclennan County

According to the 2010 Census, McLennan County’s population is 234,906.

November 4, 2014

McLennan County’s initial election under the program was the November 4, 2014 General Election. Prior to participating in the program, McLennan County had 59 voting precincts. For the November 4, 2014 General Election, the county used 40 vote centers.

Turnout Trends

McLennan County used 40 vote centers on election day for the November 4, 2014 General Election. An analysis of turnout trends for the 2010, 2012 and 2014 General Elections in McLennan County shows an overall significant increase in voter turnout over those years. Reports indicate a 46.56% turnout for registered voters in 2010, compared to a 43.34% turnout for registered voters in 2012 and a 54.29% turnout for registered voters in 2014.

Public Feedback

McLennan County solicited feedback from voters on the county’s use of the countywide polling place program via a survey that was provided to voters at the polling locations. The surveys asked voters to indicate whether or not using one of the vote centers was more convenient than travelling to the voter’s home precinct. The survey also asked voters to indicate what influenced them to vote at a particular vote center. The responses received where largely positive. Many voters indicated they chose a particular vote center because it was closer to the voter’s place of employment rather than the voter’s home precinct. There was also a large amount of support for the county’s continued use of the program in future elections.

Montague County

According to the 2010 Census, Montague County’s population is 19,719.

November 4, 2014

Montague County’s initial election under the program was the November 4, 2014 General Election. Prior to participating in the program, Montague County had 15 voting precincts. For the November 4, 2014 General Election, the county used 10 vote centers.

Turnout Trends

Montague County used 10 vote centers on election day for the November 4, 2014 General Election. An analysis of turnout trends for the 2010, 2012 and 2014 General Elections in Montague County shows a significant decrease in voter turnout over those years. Reports indicate a 27.63% turnout for registered voters in 2010 compared to a 23.14% turnout for registered voters in 2012 and a 16.36% turnout for registered voters in 2014. This may or may not be related to issues on the ballot for those years.

Public Feedback

Following the election, Montague County solicited feedback from voters, county party chairs and contracting entities regarding the county’s use of the countywide polling place program. The feedback received from those individuals was positive and showed support for the county’s continued use of the program in future elections. The feedback pointed to voter convenience and the potential reduction of costs in each election for the county with having fewer voting locations.

Navarro County

According to the 2010 Census, Navarro County’s population is 47,735.

November 4, 2014

Navarro County’s initial election under the program was the November 4, 2014 General Election. Prior to participating in the program, Navarro County had 35 voting precincts. For the November 4, 2014 General Election, the county used 21 vote centers.

Turnout Trends

Navarro County used 21 vote centers on election day for the November 4, 2014 General Election. An analysis of turnout trends for the 2010, 2012 and 2014 General Elections in Navarro County shows an overall decrease in turnout over those years. Reports indicate a 23.48% turnout for registered voters in 2010 compared to a 27.48% turnout for registered voters in 2012 and a 19.30% turnout for registered voters in 2014. This may or may not be attributable to issues on the ballot for those particular election years.

Public Feedback

Following the election, Navarro County solicited feedback from election judges and clerks and also provided voters with surveys in the polling place regarding the county’s use of the countywide polling place program. The feedback expressed support for the county’s decision to move to the use of vote centers. The feedback also indicated that the use of the program provided more voter convenience because voters were not being turned away for being in the wrong precinct.

Taylor County

According to the 2010 Census, Taylor County’s population is 131,506.

November 4, 2014

Taylor County’s initial election under the program was the November 4, 2014 General Election. Prior to participating in the program, Taylor County had 34 voting precincts. For the November 4, 2014 General Election, the county used 23 vote centers.

Turnout Trends

Taylor County used 23 vote centers on election day for the November 4, 2014 General Election. An analysis of turnout trends for the 2010 and 2014 General Elections in Taylor County shows a decrease in voter turnout totals over those years. Reports indicate a 16.07% turnout in 2010, compared to a 14.03% turnout in 2014. This may or may not be attributable to issues on the ballot in those years.

Public Feedback

Following the election, Taylor County solicited feedback from election judges and clerks as well as county and party officials, contracting political subdivisions and special interest groups. These individuals provided feedback on the county’s use of the countywide polling place program in the election. The feedback supported the county’s continued use of the program and cited that the program provided increase flexibility and voter convenience as it allowed voters to cast a ballot in a precinct other than the voter’s home precinct.

Tom Green County

According to the 2010 Census, Tom Green County’s population is 110,224.

November 4, 2014

Tom Green County’s initial election under the program was the November 4, 2014 General Election. Prior to participating in the program, Tom Green County had 34 voting precincts but conducted elections using 26 polling places. For the November 4, 2014 General Election, the county used 18 vote centers.

Turnout Trends

Tom Green County used 18 vote center son election day for the November 4, 2014 General Election. An analysis of turnout trends for the 2010, 2012 and 2014 General Elections in Tom Green County shows an overall decrease in voter turnout totals over those years. Reports indicate a 21.23% turnout for registered voters in 2010, compared to a 21.88% turnout for registered voters in 2012 and a 15.50% turnout for registered voters in 2014. The decrease in voter turnout may or may not be a result of issues on the ballot in those years.

Public Feedback

Following the election, Tom Green County solicited feedback from county chairs, contracting political subdivisions and special interest groups on the impact of the countywide polling place program in the election. The county also solicited feedback from voters via a survey that was provided at the polling locations. Most of the responses received by the county were positive towards the implementation of vote centers and those individuals believed that vote centers made voting more convenient for the voters and turned less voters away. Many of the voters who provided feedback expressed discontent with the amount of time that they had to wait at various polling locations. Some voters also expressed a concern with not being able to vote with a paper ballot.

Rusk County

According to the 2010 Census, Rusk County’s population is 53,330.

November 4, 2014

Rusk County’s initial election under the program was the November 4, 2014 General Election. Prior to participating in the program, Rusk County had 22 voting precincts. For the November 4, 2014 General Election, the county used 17 vote centers.

Turnout Trends

Rusk County used 17 vote centers on election day for the November 4, 2014 General Election. Rusk County did not submit turnout data for the county’s previous gubernatorial election in 2010, but submitted turnout data for the general election in 2012. An analysis of turnout trends for the 2012 and 2014 General Elections in Rusk County shows a decrease in voter turnout totals over those years. Reports indicate a 22.57% turnout in 2012, compared to a 20.32% turnout in 2014. The decrease may or may not be attributable to issues on the ballot in those years.

Public Feedback

Following the election, Rusk County solicited feedback on the county’s use of the program from election judges and clerks. The county also distributed surveys to voters at the polling locations. Overall, the feedback to the county’s use of the countywide polling place program was positive. The individuals who responded indicated that the program was more convenient for voters because a voter could vote outside of his or her home precinct. Some frustration over signage and parking at some voting locations was expressed, but there was no negative response to the use of vote centers generally.

Recommendations to the 84th Texas Legislature

After eleven cycles of the countywide polling place program, there is still a relatively small sample size from which to make observations and recommendations. For the November 2014 general election, 26 counties participated in the program including the 19 counties that had previously been designated “successful”. This accounts for just over 10% of the counties in the state.

First Recommendation

Many of the participating counties expressed concern with the selection of election day judges and clerks at the countywide polling places. The elimination of voting precinct specific polling places under the program and the moving of polling places to other locations or combining previous precincts often does not allow a county to make a specific designation of judges and clerks from a party list because the area now being serviced under the program does not have a tracked voting history like the previous precinct. Accordingly, the 84th Legislature may wish to explore ways for counties to appoint election day judges and clerks for the countywide polling places when voting history of an area cannot be tracked.

Second Recommendation

The Secretary of State also suggests the Legislature examine whether to require the first election at which countywide polling places are used be an election other than the November general election for state and county officers. This change would allow county election officials, local political subdivisions within the county, and the voters of the county to become familiar with the concept and in effect run a smaller scale election with countywide election day polling places before deciding whether the county should apply to use the countywide polling places in a November General Election.

Third Recommendation

Section 43.007(a)(5) of the Texas Election Code currently reads that the countywide polling place program can be used in an “election of a political subdivision that is held jointly” with the general election for state and county officers, an election on the uniform election date in May, a constitutional amendment election, or a joint primary or runoff primary election. The section does not distinguish if “held jointly” means a joint election agreement under Chapter 271 of the Code or if it also applies to an entity contracting for election services with the county under Chapter 31, Subchapter D. Accordingly, the 84th Legislature may wish to explicitly clarify “held jointly” in this section.

Overall Observations

For the moment, countywide polling places effects on voter turnout are difficult to gauge. However, anecdotal evidence from the participating counties, including feedback from voters and election officials, along with the turnout percentages, suggest countywide election polling places offer a way to ensure that voters who plan to vote in the election have an increased opportunity to do so much as with early voting.

Overall, there were very little technical issues reported concerning the use of countywide polling places as there had been in the past. This could be a result of counties becoming more familiar with the program. Many concerns from voters stemmed from issues that were unrelated to the use of the program itself, such as lack of adequate signage or parking space or extended wait times. These are issues that should be addressed by participating counties as they move forward with the program.

Statutory Considerations