Gonzales County commissioners are considering switching to a countywide voting system that will allow voters to cast their ballots from any polling place in the county on election day.
A short discussion was held Monday during a public hearing at commissioners court. Voter Registrar Crystal Cedillo informed the commissioners that the program has been in the works for a while.
“We have had a meeting on this prior to this and they (party chairs) knew this is where we were going when we ordered the equipment last year. This is part of why we ordered the equipment,” she said.
“I think it’s a really good idea to change out our (system) to have countywide voting where you can have voting anywhere in the county on election day,” said Sharon Hall, the only member of the public to speak at the hearing.
Cedillo said there will need to be another hearing before the county can enter the Texas Countywide Polling Place Program. A date for that hearing was not set.
“We have to have a hearing to solicit from the voters, the citizens, their opinions on the county going into such and this is their opportunity to speak,” she said
County Judge Patrick Davis said it would be convenient for voters on election day.
“This means is that anywhere in the county, you don’t have to go to your actual precinct that you’re actually registered at. You can go to any one,” he said.
Cedillo said the way the system works currently, someone arriving at the wrong precinct would have to cast a provisional ballot.
“If I show up at 10 minutes to seven at the wrong location right now, I would have to vote provisional and my vote doesn’t count because I’m at the wrong location,” she said. “With countywide, that doesn’t matter. If I’m at the wrong location at 10 minutes to seven, my vote will count.”
Cedillo asked the commissioners to hold off setting the second public hearing until after the July 14 runoff election because her office to too busy getting ready for that.
“We will have another time for them to come and speak,” she said. “This is just a process that the secretary to state has for us to get into the program. And once we’re into the program then we have to go through a successful election using our equipment. … Once we go through a successful election, then we have to go through all of this again and at that time we are OK to go with the countywide polling for every election the follows.”
Cedillo said the purpose of the change is for the convenience of the voter.
“The best thing I can say about the program is it’s for the voter. It is with the voter in mind,” she said. “What it does is make Election Day like early voting. With early voting you can go anywhere to vote. On Election Day with countywide voting, you can go to any election center to vote.”
In other action, the commissioners received a donation of an antenna from the Gonzales County Amateur Radio Emergency Service to the Gonzales EOC. In return, the commissioners provided used coax cable for use with the donated antenna.
“For us, it’s just one more asset we have if we have communication issues,” commented Sheriff Matthew J. Atkinson.