LUBBOCK, Texas — A bill passed the Texas Senate and remained pending in the House, as of Thursday, to eliminate countywide vote centers and go back to neighborhood precinct locations for all elections.
Lubbock was the original home of countywide vote centers in Texas. In 2005, the legislature passed a pilot program, and the following year Lubbock was the only county to participate.
“It worked very well,” Roxzine Stinson, Lubbock County Elections Administrator, told EverythingLubbock.com. “We worked with some of the minority groups, the cities, the schools; there were quite a few involved in it, not just us.”
With Dorothy Kennedy as the administrator at the time, Lubbock County worked with legislators to then roll out the program to all of Texas with counties having the right to opt in.
The Texas Tribune reported 90 counties – home to 83% of Texas voters – have countywide voting.
Do Lubbock area voters like it?
“I would say 99% of them do, yes,” said Stinson. She cited voters who work far away from home, and not having to cross over from one part of the county to anther to vote makes it much easier. She said voters would sometimes show up at the wrong polling location right before the polls closed. Such a person would not be able to vote.
Stinson previously commented that switching might cost an additional $300,000 to staff the neighborhood precincts.
For EverythingLubbock.com she said, “We wouldn’t know until we know for sure how many polling locations we would have to have.”
Whatever the number, each one would need to be compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. In the November 2022 election, Lubbock County operated 37 vote centers.
“If Senate Bill 990 does pass, we will do what we have to do,” Stinson said. “We will follow the law as we’re supposed to.”
Republican Senator Bob Hall of Edgewood authored the bill. He told CBS News on April 28 that the countywide voting makes it difficult to have confidence in the results. He said there having been discrepancies in audits between the precinct level, the county level and the state level.
“We have found inconsistencies that are inexplicable,” Hall said. He made the case that voting close to home makes it easier to ensure the process is done correctly and each voter gets the right ballot.
Hall cited examples where someone got the wrong ballot because of a computer problem in countywide voting. Hall wanted to eliminate countywide early voting as well but did not have support. He said he is not against vote centers but against voting outside of home precincts.
The State Senate took a vote and passed SB 990 by a vote of 17 to 12. Senator Charles Perry of Lubbock was in favor.
Perry did not respond to a request for comment. Representative Dustin Burrows of Lubbock, who serves on the House Elections Committee where the bill remained pending, declined to comment.
Lubbock State Representative Carl Tepper defended vote centers, calling them super precincts.
“Super precincts merely allow anyone within the county to vote at any of the polling places within the county,” Tepper said. “The electronics know which precinct you live in and are able to adapt to that particular person’s address and ballot.”
Tepper said, “I believe it would be a mistake to remove the super precinct option. Voting should be secure, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be overly inconvenient.”
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