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Travis County Considering "Vote Centers"

Photo by KUT News
The entrance to the Travis County Elections Division office. The county is considering a pilot program to have vote centers available for the November election. These would be open to all registered voters on Election Day, much like early voting sites.

Early voting is underway for the May 14 Austin City Council elections, but Travis County is already looking ahead to the state constitutional election in November. Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir wants to institute so-called "vote centers." These would be polling locations where any registered voter could cast a ballot on Election Day, instead of being required to vote at an assigned precinct polling station."Election Day voters could vote in their neighborhood, in their usual polling place or if they got confused about what was their polling place, or if they got caught across town and were afraid they were going to miss voting, they could vote at a place closer to them.  They would have the same kind of options as voters have for early voting," DeBeauvoir told Travis County Commissioners Court Tuesday morning.

Some county commissioners worry that these new vote centers would have an adverse effect on poor voters who may not have reliable transportation, internet, or cable to learn about the changes.  DeBeauvoir says the county would phase in these vote centers. She says most precinct locations would remain the same the first go around.

“Let's keep most, and I really do mean virtually all, of our Election Day polling places, keep them our first round, let’s give people the opportunity to see what this feels like."  

Travis County is planning to gather public input before it submits a plan to the Texas Secretary of State by August 15.  KUT News will have more on how these vote centers would work during All Things Considered today.