Nacogdoches County uses new system to reduce amendment election costs

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Turnout for amendment elections is traditionally low in Texas and the one going on right now is no different. Unfortunately, the election costs to counties aren't much less. But, there are ways counties are trying to make the unfunded mandates a bit more cost efficient.

"The voting turnout has always been really low," says Nacogdoches County Judge Joe English.

It's costing Nacogdoches County taxpayers $15,000 to conduct an election few people care about.

"You still have to pay rent on the facility. You still have to pay the employees to work at it. You still have to pay interpreters to be there on sight. You still have to pay for the ballots and the cost of the supplies, so yeah, regardless small or large,  you're still going to have a big expense to hold an election," says English.

So counties are looking for cost saving measures. Nacogdoches County consolidated voting boxes in its redistricting proposal. Federal approval is needed before the plan can be put into action.

But happening right now is the introduction of an electronic poll book. A grant is paying for the laptop device. It's designed to cut down on man hours and speed the voting process along. There will be a time when that's necessary.

"And it is so much easier than the old system on looking up the names on paper. Just check it as voted, print up a label, they sign it, we give them a ballot and that's it," says Kay Pittmon and election judge.

Most of the time it is fast and easy.

"Swipe your driver's license and it pulls up your name," says Pittmon.

If the names on the id are slightly different than the voter register, even by one letter, the automatic system will balk. The election worker then finds the voters name on the computerized register.

The county is wanting to obtain more poll books for future elections. Perhaps then the turnout will have improved.

This is the last week of early voting. Hours will be extended in some counties. The Nacogdoches County Courthouse Annex will be open Thursday and Friday from seven to seven. As of 1:00 Monday, only 158 people in Nacogdoches County have voted in person.

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