New law requires uniform hours of operation at temporary polling places

New law requires uniform hours of operation at temporary polling places

NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS (KTRE) - A new election law is generating some concern about voter turnout in upcoming elections.

The law requires uniform hours of operation at temporary polling places and eliminates mobile or movable polling places. The new law says election officials can no longer set up temporary voting locations unless those places have the same hours as a permanent polling place.

The change will largely impact voters in rural areas like Deep East Texas.

Nacogdoches County Elections Administrator Todd Stallings said this law is stretching resources too thin.

“Staffing, especially doing two weeks, at a place would be difficult,” Stallings said.

He said in the past they’ve set up polling places in school buildings or churches for a couple days during the early voting days.

“Here we would go to Woden, Central Heights, we had one near the campus (SFA) and so it was just something that the county did as a convenience for voters and we’re very successful with it last year,” Stallings said.

In 2018, Nacogdoches County had five temporary locations including one at Stephen F. Austin State University where almost 600 student voters cast a ballot.

For Republican and Democratic party chairs, the concern is about easy access.

“It’s an attempt by Republicans in Austin to limit voting rights by students and other groups, an attempt by them to take power away from local government,” said Mike Strong, the Democratic Party Chair in Nacogdoches.

“I think it’s the number one thing on the list cause if you don’t have turnout you’re not going to win anything,” said Donald Baum, the Republican Party Chair in Angelina County.

Early voting in Texas starts Monday and goes until Nov. 1.

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