Polling places cut for primaries
By LPR Staff
In 2002, the Federal government passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which was intended to make voting, and tallying votes, easier for the American public.
Unfortunately, HAVA requirements might actually make voting more difficult for some Caldwell County residents.
HAVA requirements call for at least one HAVA-
compliant, touch-screen activated electronic voting machine at each polling place. Using Federal grant funds, Caldwell County purchased 26 electronic voting machines for use in county elections — one for each typical voting district in the county. The available machines are ample to meet Federal requirements in most elections. However, the county is not sufficiently equipped to handle separate primary elections — such as the March 7 Primary.
“The parties could not come to an agreement about having a joint primary,” said Caldwell County”s election supervisor, Mary Vicky Gonzales. “So this year, instead of the 26 locations we usually have on election day, there will be 12 locations for the Republicans and 13 locations for the Democrats.”
Gonzales expressed concern that many voters who are used to voting in a specific location will arrive at their polling place on Election Day to find it closed.
“The locations [the parties] have chosen are easy to find, but the voters will have to educate themselves about where the polling places are.”
She added that there will be two HAVA-compliant voting machines at each early voting location, and suggested that voters participate in early voting to cut down on Election Day confusion.
In a written statement released recently, Caldwell County Republican Party Chair Terry Alford asserted that the Caldwell County Democratic Party”s Executive Committee had decided against holding joint primary elections. He claimed that the Republican Party was prepared to work toward joint primary elections to make voting easier for the public, but the Democratic Party resisted.
Democratic Party Chair Philip Ruiz could not be contacted for comment on the issue.
According to Gonzales, several voting boxes will be merged to accommodate the Federal requirements. The greatest effect will likely be on voters in rural areas, as several of the rural boxes have merged and moved to other communities.
For a complete list of voting locations and changes for the March 7 Primary Election, pick up next week”s Lockhart Post-Register. In the meantime, early voting will be available until March 3.
In Lockhart, early voters can go to the Caldwell County Tax Office at 100 E. Market Street from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. this week; on Saturday from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.; on Sunday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; or next week, Feb. 27 – March 3 from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. In Luling, the Church of Annunciation at 301 S. Walnut St. will be open to early voters from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday this week and next week.