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Gatesville: County Could Do Away With Voting Precinct Lines

By: Paul J. Gately Email
By: Paul J. Gately Email

GATESVILLE (January 14, 2013)-A proposal presented Monday to county commissioners in Gatesville would allow voters in Coryell County to disregard old voting precinct lines and cast their ballots at any polling place.

Coryell County Tax Assessor-Collector Justin Carothers said the plan has been under consideration for some time but Monday was the first formal debate on the issue that in the future would allow county voters to cast their ballots at any polling place without regard to where they live and what voting precinct they are in.

Carothers presented the plan to commissioners on Monday and the issue received a positive response, he said.

The effort would be to make voting in general elections easier in that registered voters could cast their ballots at any polling place in the county using electronic voting machines.

The one drawback, Carothers said, is paper ballots would no longer be provided for use.

Some counties in the state, including Lampasas and Erath, in Central Texas, already have gone to similar plans and Carothers said both have received a 90 percent approval rating from voters who have participated.

"The main thing would be to make voting easier," Carothers said, "And anything that would make voting easier would be good for the voting public."

The county must make application with the Secretary of State to be added to a list of only four in the state with a population of less than 100,000 who would be allowed to make the change before the 2013 General Election.

The last date to make application is July 24, Carothers said, "but we want to be on the top of the list of requests because there are only four slots available."

Specifically, what would change is the total number of voting places and the way voters cast their ballots.

Currently Coryell County has 16 polling places and that number would decrease first to 10 but eventually to eight.

But after the change, a registered voter could cast a ballot at any one of those locations without regard to where they live.

The reduction in the number of polling places could lead to reduced cost because the number of locations would decrease as would the number of people needed top staff those locations.

Commissioners on Monday approved the request from Carothers to make the formal request, but before the change could take effect, the court must first host two public hearings on the issue to measure the public's support and then must bring the question to a vote.

If approved, the change would only apply to the General Election and primaries would not be included, which Carothers said could be confusing.

So Carothers has asked newly elected state Rep. J.D. Sheffield, R-Gatesville, to introduce legislation that would change the law to allow primary elections to participate as well.


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