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Vote centers in Travis County

This will be interesting to observe.

Come Nov. 6, Travis County residents can vote at any polling place in the presidential election, county commissioners decided Tuesday.

County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir recommended the switch to the “vote center” system, which allows people to vote at any pollng place in the county on Election Day rather than only at the designated location for a precinct.

“Voters don’t have to be so aware of being within a strict boundary line,” DeBeauvoir said.

[…]

Travis County Republican Party Chairwoman Rosemary Edwards said she doubted the legality of the action, saying that the state law is meant to consolidate polling places.

“In this way, there is no savings since there is no consolidation,” Edwards said.

DeBeauvoir maintained that the county’s use of vote centers is legal and that keeping neighborhood polling places open is in line with citizen requests.

There’s no technical reason why people can’t vote anywhere on Election Day as they do during early voting. In the election contests we have seen over the past decade – I’m specifically thinking of Vo/Heflin in 2004 and Howard/Neil in 2010 – a number of the votes that were challenged by the contestants were cast by people who were in the correct district but the wrong precinct. Those votes were allowed to be counted. I personally think this model makes a lot of sense, especially for lower turnout elections where it could save some money. The main objection would be that voters who are used to their precinct locations might not know where to go or might have greater difficulty getting to a different location. The former can be dealt with by sufficient outreach and education – it is often the case that precinct locations are consolidated on Election Day; at least with voting centers there would be no such surprises – and the latter can be handled by placing some vote centers in traditional precinct locations where it makes sense to do so. There is no technical reason why we cannot allow you to vote wherever it happens to be most convenient for you. We should work towards making that happen.

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