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A preview of the joint primary

Diane Trautman

Like Campos and John Coby, I recently had the opportunity to visit the Harris County Clerk and get a preview of the proposed joint primary. Coby describes it in some detail, with pictures, so I won’t duplicate his effort. Basically, the process will be very much like what you are used to already. The main difference in terms of the experience is that instead of telling the poll worker what primary you want to vote in, you pick it from a touch-screen tablet. Otherwise, it’s exactly what you’ve done before – you show your ID and sign in, you get a code for one of the eSlate machines, and you go vote. That’s all there is to it. The practical effect is that now all of the machines are available to you. There aren’t machines designated for one primary or the other, so if you’re voting at a location that historically has a long line for one party with idle machines for the other, that will no longer happen. This should help the lines move more efficiently, which in a year where a very high turnout is expected on the Dem side is greatly appreciated.

Primaries are run by the parties, and the initial reaction to this was positive from the HCDP and negative from the Harris County Republican Party. We were told at this visit that both Dem Chair Lillie Schechter and GOP Chair Paul Simpson had been in to see the same setup, and it went well. Simpson is supposedly going to make a decision about this in the next two to three weeks. I asked about the experience other counties have had with joint primaries. Michael Winn, the elections administrator who came from Travis County, said they made the change in 2011 and haven’t looked back. We’ll see.

We also discussed how election night returns are reported, which was a concern in the May election after the switchover to voting centers. We’re used to seeing reports come in by precinct, but with anyone being able to vote anywhere now that’s going to be a different experience. They’re working on that now so as to provide a better picture of where the vote totals are coming from, and they promised a preview for interested parties (campaigns, media, etc) in October. I’ll report back then. In the meantime, I have a good feeling about how this is going. Let me know if you have any questions.

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5 Comments

  1. brad m says:

    When the Paul Simpson and the GOP (and for that matter the Dems too) pay for their own primary elections only then can they complain about how their voters have to vote.

  2. Bill_Daniels says:

    I agree with Brad…..Pubs and Dems should finance their own primary votes. Why should the taxpayers have to pay for that? Taxpayers aren’t paying for the Libertarians or Greens to choose THEIR candidates, why should they pay for the Pubs and Dems?

  3. Bill_Daniels says:

    I agree with Brad…..Pubs and Dems should finance their own primary votes. Why should the taxpayers have to pay for that? Taxpayers aren’t paying for the Libertarians or Greens to choose THEIR candidates, why should they pay for the Pubs and Dems?

  4. General Grant says:

    I assume it will be programmed so you will only have one option in a runoff if you voted in the primary.

  5. Doug Allen says:

    General Grant – That’s the way that it works in other counties with a joint primary. If you vote in the main primary for one party, you cannot switch in the case of a runoff. I live in Travis County and it works quite well here.