County Commissioners approve early voting, election day schedule
(ROCKWALL COUNTY, TX – Sept. 21, 2017) With consolidated polling locations planned for the Nov. 7 constitutional amendment election, Rockwall County officials will conduct a countywide campaign that will help residents learn where they will cast their ballot.
After Rockwall County commissioners unanimously approved the early voting and election day schedule and locations during their Sept. 12 regular meeting, County Judge David Sweet said an educational program would be carried out to provide information to residents “everywhere” in the county.
With the consolidated polling locations plan—recommended by the Texas Secretary of State–there will be three early-voting locations spread across the county and five election-day locations.
Early voting, which is scheduled Oct. 23 through Nov. 3, will be held at Rockwall County Library, Heath City Hall and Fate City Hall. Election day locations will be at Rockwall County Library, Heath City Hall, Fate City Hall, McLendon-Chisholm City Hall and Ridgeview Church.
“Instead of having 17 precincts open on election day, where we typically don’t see the numbers turnout-wise, we consolidate those and send them (voters) to locations spread across the county,” Christopher Lynch, the county’s elections administrator, told county commissioners at their Aug. 22 regular meeting. “That allows us to cut down on the number of workers and cut down, obviously, on the locations.”
Lynch said during the Sept. 12 meeting that he believes there needs to be a campaign “to get the word out.” That was the plan implemented last year when Lynch and others encouraged residents to vote early. That effort, he said, was “wildly successful.”
Again, Lynch is urging residents to take advantage of the early voting opportunity.
He said early voters can cast their ballot at any of the voting locations. On election day, however, they must vote at their precinct location. Depending on the precinct in which voters reside, Lynch said, they may have to be directed to a different voting location if they wait until election day to vote.
On election day, Lynch said, there must be at least one voting location for each county commissioner precinct.
He said Fate was the Precinct 4 choice instead of Royse City because Precinct 4A, which includes Fate, has 6,771 registered voters. Precinct 4B, which includes Royse City, has 1,596 registered voters and Precinct 4C, which is mostly rural, has 3,200 registered voters.
Because there must be at least one voting place per precinct, Lynch said, McLendon-Chisholm was the most obvious choice for Precinct 3.
With the selection of Ridgeview Church at 1362 Farm to Market 552, Lynch said, he was trying to account for voters in that part of the county and that seemed like the best central location to use in Precinct 1. He said residents of voting precincts 1B and 1C would vote at Ridgeview Church, but residents of 1A would come from Rowlett and vote at the county library if they wait until election day to cast their ballot.
Regarding a voting location in Rowlett, Lynch said, he wants to find a location that’s “in concert” with all party and election officials, and would provide consistency, regardless of the type and size of the election.
He doesn’t expect a “very strong turnout” for the seven-proposition constitutional amendment election. According to Lynch, the recommendation to consolidate polling locations is based on historically low figures.
In the 2011 constitutional amendment election, the total voter turnout was 1,706. In the 2013 constitutional amendment election, voter turnout was 3,307. In 2015, Lynch reported, about 8,000 votes were cast. The turnout was higher, he said, because a Rockwall Independent School District bond issue proposal was on the ballot.
The salary cost difference between 17 locations and five on election day is about $9,000, according to Lynch. He said the cost for programming would be about $5,000 more than the proposed consolidated polling locations plan.
“I don’t have any doubts that we can accommodate for the 60,000 some odd voters who are spread across the county,” he said. “My historical data tells me if we have anywhere between a 4,000- and 5,000-people vote total for the county in this type of election, that will be a big number based on what I’ve seen in the last two constitution amendment elections.”
Submitted press release.
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