BREAKING: At emergency meeting, Hays County commissioners extend early voting in 3 locations, including Texas State University

Update Oct. 26, 1:36 p.m.: Hays County commissioners unanimously moved to extend early voting at three polling places Nov.1-2 after an emergency meeting convened to discuss in executive session possible litigation from the Texas Civil Rights Project.

Texas State University, Live Oak Health Center and the Belterra clubhouse will be open for early voting from 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Nov.1-2.

In a letter Thursday, the Texas Civil Rights Project stated it would file a lawsuit against the county if it did not extend early voting at Texas State by Friday afternoon. The group stated in the letter—on behalf of two Texas State students, the League of Women Voters of Hays County and MOVE Texas Action Fund—that the lack of an extension of on-campus polling is a violation of the Texas Election Code and the U.S. Constitution because it discriminates against students as a class of voters.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Lon Shell said commissioners received over a thousand emails asking them to extend early voting at Texas State. Shell said he is happy to hear about the unexpected spike in turnout, but is disappointed that some in the community have politicized the issue and claimed that the county is trying to suppress votes.

The call for extended early voting comes after 5,518 people cast their ballots Thursday, bringing the number of early votes so far to 24,922—far surpassing the 6,149 votes cast in the first four days of early voting in the 2014 midterm election.

High turnout led to lines wrapping around the LBJ Student Center at Texas State University during the first three days of early voting on campus as students waited to vote.

Update Oct. 26, 11:03 a.m.: Hays County will not be extending dates or times for early voting at Texas State University due to public notice requirements for the voting schedule, officials stated in a press release Friday.

Texas Civil Rights Project stated in a letter Thursday that the group would file a lawsuit against the county if it did not extend early voting at Texas State University by noon Friday.

Hays County Commissioners Court is holding an emergency meeting to discuss the threat of litigation by the Texas Civil Rights Project regarding early voting and election day polling places at 12:15 p.m. Friday.

According to the release, elections staff had equipment problems on the first day of early voting at two polling places. The problems were related to cable connections between equipment and caused a temporary delay at the Hays County Precinct 4 polling place in Dripping Springs. The problem was resolved within an hour, and no other equipment-related delays have happened since, according to officials.

City of San Marcos and the Capital Area Rural Transportation System, or CARTS, will provide free bus service for students with a Texas State ID to and from polling places during early voting and election day at the request of Hays County, according to the release.

Readers can click here to view the early voting schedule to find out which polling sites are still open.

Update Oct. 26, 9:10 a.m.: Hays County residents turned out to the first four days of early voting for the 2018 midterm election at rates much higher than the 2014 midterm.

According to the Hays County Elections Office, 5,518 people cast their ballots Thursday, bringing the number of early votes so far to 24,922—far surpassing the 6,149 votes cast in the first four days of early voting in the 2014 midterm election.

High turnout led to lines wrapping around the LBJ Student Center at Texas State University during the first three days of early voting on campus as students waited to vote. Early voting at Texas State’s campus ended Wednesday, leaving some students, candidates and local organizations wanting extended early voting on campus.

The Texas Civil Rights Project sent a letter Thursday to Hays County on behalf of two Texas State students, the League of Women Voters of Hays County and MOVE Texas Action Fund to Hays County demanding polls be reopened on campus and the extension of early voting on campus.

The organization claims the lack of an on-campus polling location is a violation of the Texas Election Code and the U.S. Constitution. According to the Texas Civil Rights Project’s website, the group is giving the county until noon Friday to comply with its demands before it files a lawsuit.

The League of Women Voters of Hays County sent a letter Thursday urging Hays County Commissioners to extend early voting on campus immediately. The letter, written by Linda Calvert, the organization’s president, cited long lines and wait times as evidence that there’s a demand for more days of early voting on campus for students.

“I know there are other places in the county with much less demand, but early voting is available for a much longer period,” Calvert stated in the letter.

Democratic Texas House candidate Erin Zwiener wrote on Facebook that students waited up to two hours to vote during the three days polls were available on campus.

“With construction around LBJ, a cross-campus trip can take up to 20 minutes,” Zwiener wrote. “Students shouldn’t have to risk missing class or putting aside homework to perform a basic civic duty.”

Update Oct. 25 10:30 a.m.: On the third day of early voting, Hays County residents continued to go to the polls in numbers far exceeding turnout in the 2014 midterms. Yesterday, 6,195 voters cast a ballot, more than four times the number that did so on the third day of early voting in 2014.

In total, 19,404 people have voted in the first three days of early voting this year, compared to 4,832 during the same period in 2014.



Update Oct. 24 12 p.m.: Hays County voters have turned out to cast their ballots early at more than three times the rate at which they did for the 2014 midterm election, according to data from the Hays County elections office.

When the polls closed Tuesday, 6,704 Hays County residents had voted--a 199 vote increase from Monday's totals. In the first two days of early voting for the 2014 midterm election, just 3,401 Hays County residents turned out to vote. In stark contrast, 13,209 ballots were cast in this year's first two days of early voting.



Original post Oct. 23, 11:43 a.m.: At the end of the first day of early voting for the 2018 midterm election Monday, 6,505 Hays County residents had cast their ballots.

During early voting, which ends Nov. 2, residents registered to vote in Hays County can cast their ballot at any of the county's polling locations. Voters can get to know the candidates up for election and find their nearest early voting site by reviewing Community Impact Newspaper's voter's guide.