Compared to the 37 typically open for a general election, there are 19 election day polling sites that will open for the Sept. 29 Senate District 30 special election.
Parker County Elections Administrator Crickett Miller presented information and the commissioners court voted on two items Monday morning — the 19 polling sites and staying with countywide voting.
“Y’all have been using countywide voting centers since 2015 and that’s where you can go anywhere in the county to vote. Well, under the statutes of election code, that is only for a general election — a general election held for a uniform election date, which is in May, an election for a constitutional amendment or a primary or primary run-off — it does not include a special election,” Miller said. “In talking to the secretary of state, they want us to convert back to precinct voting [but] said it has to be or needs to be a county decision so that’s the reason I’m bringing it to [the commissioners]. As you know, when we go back to something we’re not used to, we’re going to have some issues.”
The Sept. 29 special election was called by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott after Sen. Pat Fallon, R-Prosper, received the Republican nomination for the 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives last month, leaving the SD-30 position open.
Republicans Andy Hopper, Chris Watts, Shelley Luther, Rep. Drew Springer and Craig Carter are on the ballot as well as Democrat Jacob Minter. Early voting began Monday.
Miller recommended the commissioners vote to stick with the countywide voting instead of moving to precinct voting.
“I’ve talked to other counties and most of them that are doing countywide are staying with the countywide. It would just be so confusing for the voters,” Miller said. “They’re already confused [Monday] morning because they think they’re voting on the presidential election, so we’re already having that issue.”
The cost to county taxpayers for the special election is between $40,000-$42,000 with the 19 polling sites, but would cost more if they moved into precinct voting, Miller said. If the county went to precinct voting, there would need to be 44 polling sites available.
“Crickett and I spoke about this and I proposed that she put this to the court and also speak with other counties [about] how they were handling the situation, because if someone were to object to it, it would be based on the fact that they weren’t able to get to a polling site and vote,” Parker County Attorney John Forrest said. “But this process here would allow them to have more opportunity to vote because they can be anywhere in the county.
“We think that this would be a good process to enable more people to vote in multiple locations, so the intent of this, just as other counties are viewing it, is to allow voters to have more opportunity to vote, not less.”
The commissioners court unanimously approved countywide voting as well as the 19 polling sites.
“[A special election] is different from anything else that we’ve had and the opportunity for confusion is really significant, so I think we need to do the best job we can of getting the word out that this is a special election and in this election, there’s only going to be 19 polling sites as opposed to the 37,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Larry Walden said. “So people may not vote at the normal place that they typically vote at in a general election or in a primary.”
Early voting in Parker County is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. this week through Sept. 18; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 19; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 20; and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 21-25. Early voting locations include the Parker County Courthouse Annex, Aledo ISD Administration Building, Peaster ISD Rock Gym and Springtown Senior Center.
Early voting in Palo Pinto County will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 14-18 and Sept. 21-25 and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 17 and Sept. 24. Early voting sites in Palo Pinto County are the 4-H Extension building and the Palo Pinto Annex.