Hearings set to move forward with county-wide Election Day polling sites in Hays County

The Hays County Commissioners Court recently approved applying for the State’s Countywide Polling Program, also known as “Voter Centers.”

If approved by the Texas Secretary of State, on Election Day voters would be able to vote at any polling place in Hays County, as they are currently able to do during early voting.

County election officials will share information about the program at two public meetings: in San Marcos on March 27 at Fire Station #5, 100 Carlson Circle at River Ridge Parkway, and on March 28 at VFW Post 6441, 401 Jacob’s Well Road, Wimberley. Both meetings will be from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

“The public will have an opportunity to suggest polling locations and ask questions about the new program,” Hays County Elections Administrator Jennifer Anderson said in a press release. “We want to do everything we can to encourage people to vote and make it easier for them. With these vote centers, even on Election Day you can cast a ballot at any vote center location in Hays County – whichever one is closest to you at work, school, or while out running errands.” 

Donna Haschke, chair of the Hays County Democratic Party, urged supporters of the Voter Centers proposal to attend these two hearings to voice support for improved voter access to polling locations on Election Day.

“The Voter Centers program will benefit all Hays County voters by eliminating confusion that occurs on Election Day, when voters go to the wrong polling sites,” Haschke said. “It will encourage stronger voter turnout and bring us in line with other neighboring counties that already allow this like Travis County.”

Anderson said she hopes to have the program in place in time for the November 2019 election. She noted that while different types of elections call for different numbers of polling locations, she does not expect a major change in the number of polling locations for each of those elections. Anderson will also form a committee made up of political party representatives and political subdivision planners to help determine polling locations. 

As required by law to implement the program, all jurisdictions that hold elections in Hays County have approved the program.  

In addition to the Voter Centers plan, the work of a citizen’s committee in 2017 to recommend a replacement for aging voting machines in Hays County is also making progress. 

The Hays County Elections Administrator is putting together a purchasing plan for new voting machines, and she is proposing a ballot-marking system. It features touch-screen voting but prints out a paper record of the voter’s choices. This system will finally create a “paper trail” that many Hays County voters have requested in recent years.