Effort to Increase Voter Turnout in Dallas County Challenged by Price

1,200 provisional ballots were cast by Dallas County voters in the March primaries.  County Judge Clay Jenkins said many of the primary day voters had shown up at the wrong polling place. Commissioner Elba Garcia wants to address this problem by creating voting centers, which would allow people to vote at any polling place in Dallas County on election day.  There was strong opposition from Commissioner John Wiley Price, who indicated he was not interested in spending the money to make it happen.

Many Texas counties have eliminated polling places at precincts and are using voting centers instead in order to boost voter turnout.  Last year, Galveston County developed an app that used GPS to direct voters to the nearest voting center.  “About 13 percent of all Texas counties are now using countywide voting centers and the number keeps rising, said Alicia Pierce, spokeswoman for the Texas Secretary of State, who said many voters enjoy the convenience it affords.”

According to the Dallas Morning News, “vote centers started in Colorado more than a decade ago. A 2007 academic study by Ball State University in Indiana touted the benefits of such polling locations, including lower costs and higher turnout. Other Texas counties, including Galveston, have hopped aboard. Dallas County would become the largest in the state to do so, surpassing Travis County.

Harris County officials are also considering the switch to vote centers. Clerk Stan Stanart said the county has the equipment but faces [] logistical issues. He said they are still a few years and numerous political hurdles away from making the idea a reality there.

Collin County has used vote centers since 2009. The move cut the county’s polling places roughly in half, from about 130 to 63. That saved money for the county, said Patty Seals, Collin County’s deputy election administrator. And no one is turned away for showing up at the wrong location.

‘Our voters love it because they can go anywhere to vote,’ Seals said.”

Garcia asked the county elections administrator, Toni Pippins-Poole, to run an analysis to see if vote centers would save county taxpayers money.


Dallas Morning News article:  http://thescoopblog.dallasnews.com/2016/03/voting-anywhere-on-election-day-would-be-nice-but-comes-at-a-high-price-dallas-county-official-says.html/

Houston Chronicle article:  http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/article/Texas-counties-increasingly-turning-to-vote-6479490.php




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