County approves voting locations
After a lengthy discussion spanning two meetings on voting center locations, Hays County solidified polling places for this year’s November election.
The Hays County Commissioners Court met Monday evening for a special meeting to discuss the voting process after County Judge Ruben Becerra removed an agenda item on voting from Tuesday, Aug. 13’s meeting, causing a delay. Commissioners then voted Tuesday morning in order to meet the Secretary of State’s deadline of Aug. 22 for election center locations.
The Court approved an amended list of voting centers, which will now include 14 early voting locations and 34 election day locations. In addition to selecting polling locations, Commissioners approved a list of judges/Alt judges for the locations, though the list will still change before November.
Every seat in the courtroom was full with about 30 individuals standing in the crowded room during Monday’s special meeting. Over 40 individuals lined up to express their thoughts on the election process.
Concerns from citizens included voting locations on Texas State’s campus, locations on the East side of Interstate 35, rural locations and the amount of locations in Wimberley compared to those in Kyle. Community members also expressed concern with transparency, timeliness and the makeup of the Polling Place Study group, which was comprised of 11 individuals from Hays County.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Lon Shell suggested the creation of a permanent committee to address election issues, and agreed that Wimberley previously had an adequate amount of voting locations.
“I think this is a good opportunity to maybe set some more permanent type of committee that addresses these issues ongoing, not just when it comes to election time.” Shell said.
Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Gonzales Ingalsbe thanked everyone in attendance for their involvement.
“This Court has said it before on different issues, we must do better, we can do better, and we will do better,” she said.
Commissioners amended the list of election day voting centers by removing the Embassy Suites in San Marcos from the list, substituting Eikon Church with Tobias Elementary School, removing First Baptist Church Wimberley from the list, removing the Hays County Precinct 3 Office from the list, adding Chapa Middle School to the list and selecting the LBJ Student Center as the location on Texas State Universities’ campus. The Court also added two locations to the early voting location list: Kyle City Hall and the Hays CISD Administrative Building.
For a complete list of voting center locations for the upcoming November election visit sanmarcosrecord.com:
Discussion takes place on Texas State location:
Commissioner Smith, who initially brought up Strahan Arena as Texas State’s voting center location, ultimately proposed the LBJ Student Center as the polling location.
“I want to make sure that Texas State is at LBJ,” Smith said.
The locations selected will affect Hays County’s Nov. 5 Constitutional election, along with local municipal elections, including the San Marcos City Council election.
During a comment period before the vote, Linda Calvert, President of the League of Women Voters, requested the Court establish a standing group for voting issues, keep a voting center at the LBJ Student Center, allow Wimberley to give up several voting centers and allow the public to express their voice regarding voting issues. Several members of the community expressed their support for Calvert’s statement.
“The second thing, I would ask that you give Texas State the vote center at LBJ Center,” Calvert said. “The needs of 40,000 students and staff outweigh the surmised needs of the small group of unknown voters who might want to vote on campus.”
Katherine Wicker was one of the two students who sat on Texas State’s voting committee to decide on the location on campus.
“We are very thankful for the Commissioners Court (for doing) the right thing and (putting) the location at the LBJ Student Center,” Wicker said following the Court’s decision. “And I'm excited to work with all the Commissioners, including Commissioner Smith, moving forward on how we can better serve the entire community and possibly looking at getting a second location for students in the community and that part of San Marcos.”
Elections Administrator Jennifer Anderson said a lot of confusion about the voting center process is due to the fact that it was not discussed in Court last week.
“Discussion and possible action means that this Court's doing their due diligence... that's the process that should have taken place last week and then we wouldn't have had a whole week of people believing things that weren’t accurate,” Anderson said. “And I just wanted to clear that up because the people that sat on the (Polling Place) committee did do their homework and we had people that represented rural communities, we had people that were Hispanics and people that were represented in your jurisdictions and they were all driving around to locations, filling out assessment sheets, listening to input from people that they were talking to and every single thing that's been brought up in these comments were discussed in our committee.”