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Angelina County election officials considering countywide polling places

Published: Jun. 16, 2021 at 3:31 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 9:20 PM CDT
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ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - For the more than 52,000 registered voters in Angelina County, changes may be on the way where they cast their ballot.

Angelina County Elections Administrator Elizabeth Hawkins is seeking feedback from the community and registered voters on a proposal to establish countywide polling locations for Election Day.

“It’s going to affect them greatly,” she said. “The voter would be able to go to any of the locations that is open on Election Day, regardless of precinct.”

This is a program that must be approved by the Texas Secretary of State. Just under 80 counties, including some in East Texas, like Gregg and Smith, already received the okay.

“You will still get your assigned ballot,” Hawkins said. “It’s going to be an open roll and what will happen is it will simultaneously update through our e-pollbook. So if you vote at one location, at the other location it pulls up and shows that they have voted.”

Hawkins said this is similar to how registered voters in the county cast ballots prior to Election Day.

“This is not anything new to Angelina County,” she said. “We do this during early voting. At the four locations that we have during early voting, it’s the same process. The difference is on Election Day, we would be able to do that.”

She said there are benefits for registered voters to cast a single ballot at any polling location in the county and not just at a specific voting precinct.

“Not a lot of people know their voting precinct,” Hawkins said. “You have your commissioner precincts, your justice of the peace precincts, all different types of precincts. On Election Day, we receive a lot of phone calls with confusion on where to go. This would eliminate confusion.”

In counties with a population less than 100,000, like Angelina, just four are selected per election by the Secretary of State to allow countywide polling places. Hawkins says the application deadline to apply is July 26.

“The sooner that we get our application in, we have more of a possibility to fill one of those slots up,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said the county would keep the 30 polling locations they already have for elections open and this wouldn’t cause a burden to taxpayers.

Tuesday, June 22 at 10:00 a.m. at Commissioners Court, Hawkins says she plans to bring the topic up and encourages people to come and share their thoughts or ask questions on the matter. That is located at the Angelina County Commissioners Courtroom inside the Courthouse Annex at 606 East Lufkin Avenue.

KTRE reached out to both Angelina County Democratic and Republican Parties. By 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 16, only the Angelina County Republican Party had responded.

In a statement, Donald W. Baum, the Angelina County Republican Party County Chair, he wrote: “As Chairman of the Angelina County Republican Party, I believe that all legally registered voters should have every opportunity to vote, and the proposed country wide voting locations will provide easy access to do so.”

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