Countywide voting gets unanimous approval
The city of San Marcos has added its name to the list of jurisdictions supporting Hays County’s application for the state’s countywide voting program. The program would let Hays County residents vote on Election Day at any location in the county instead of at a set precinct, much like voters do during early voting. Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to support Hays County’s efforts to be included in the program.
“I am in full support of countywide voting locations,” council member Joca Marquez said, adding that the program will contribute to more engagement and convenience for voters “without the hassle of knowing whether you’re in the right precinct.”
Council member Ed Mihalkanin said he was concerned about whether more than one company is authorized to provide voting equipment for counties that participate in the program. City Clerk Jamie Lee Case said that one company’s machines had been demonstrated previously and one is in the process of getting state approval.
“Based on my information from the county election administrator, there’s currently only one (company),” Case said. “Our current equipment does meet the requirements however. … I know that there’s a lot of election administrators that are putting heat on the Secretary of State to get that approval done more quickly.”
Mihalkanin said he is in favor of making voting easier but was concerned that the company currently approved doesn’t provide “any kind of paper trail, paper receipt.”
“That’s not my understanding,” Case said.
She added that the process of converting to countywide voting will be “very public,” with public meetings held by the county election administrator around the county and a polling place study committee formed to determine where voting locations would be set up.
“We still have to be approved,” Case said. “By supporting this, we’re supporting the letter to request us to be able to do this.”
The first public meeting will be held April 23 at the Hays County Commissioners Court meeting, Case said. The other meetings have not yet been scheduled. However, Case said she would make sure San Marcos residents are informed about the meetings.
Mayor Jane Hughson said she likes the idea of countywide voting.
“I, too, support the concept of the voting centers,” she said. “We get used to some centralized places to vote for early voting, and when it comes Election Day, it’s ‘Oh dear, where do I vote?’ … This is going to be a whole lot easier if you work out of town.”