Vote

Henry Villarreal tests out the touch screen technology on the new voting machines at the Comal County Election's Office on Thursday, March 7, 2019. 

A plan that would allow voters to cast ballots at any of the polling locations in Comal County will be the focus of a public hearing and presentation on Thursday morning.

Comal County Commissioners will meet in an 8:30 a.m. regular session before receiving a presentation and staging a public hearing on countywide voting centers at 9 a.m. Thursday in Commissioners Courtroom, 100 Main Plaza in New Braunfels.

The workshop session will include presentations from area elections officials on countywide polling centers, an alternative to traditional precinct voting locations that allow registered voters to cast ballots at any county voting location.

“It means that on election day, all precinct polls are open, but voters can go anywhere,” said Roxanna Deane, president of the League of Women Voters of the Comal Area. “They do not have to vote in the polling place for their precinct. 

“This is so much more convenient because you can vote close to work or on the drive home. Voters love it, as do election workers because they won’t have to send people away to find the right (polling) place.”

The National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan non-governmental organization that serves state legislatures throughout the United States, said counties in 13 states employ voting centers. Guadalupe County, which introduced voting centers for the November 2017 general election, is among 55 Texas counties allowing the option. 

During a February seminar hosted by the League of Women Voters, Guadalupe elections officials said centralized centers cost less to staff and operate, and increased voter turnout in recent election cycles.

Comal County had 28 precinct voting locations for both the March 2018 party primaries and November 2018 general election. New Braunfels residents living in Guadalupe County could vote at any of its 34 voting centers last November. Deane said critics have claimed voting centers could decrease the number of available polling places, but doubts that would happen in Comal County.

“This is really a good way to make it easier to vote and hopefully increase voter participation,” she said. 

Guadalupe County elections officials, Comal County Clerk Bobbie Koepp, Elections Administrator Cynthia Jaqua and Voter Registrar Donna Dandridge will comment during the presentation.

In regular session, commissioners will also recognize Laurie Koehler upon her retirement after more than 18 years serving with the county, most recently with the county judge’s office. They will also consider approving:

• An amended plat combining lots in the Canyon Lake Forest subdivision.

• The treasurer’s February 2019 monthly report.

• Renewing the 2019-20 property insurance agreement through the Texas Association of Counties Risk Management Pool.

• Line-item budget transfers for equipment used the sheriff’s office and contracts associated with the information technology department.

For more, visit the county website at www.co.comal.tx.us.

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