Hays County commissioners approve first two members of citizens election commission

Hays County courthouse
Hays County commissioners appointed the first two members of its citizens election commission. (Community Impact Newspaper)

Hays County commissioners appointed the first two members of its citizens election commission. (Community Impact Newspaper)

On Oct. 29, Hays County commissioners appointed the first two representatives for its brand new citizens election commission and named the end of November as the deadline for its first meeting.

The court is in the process of forming the commission, in part as a response to citizens concern over the location of vote centers under the new countywide voting system.

When the group is fully appointed and convenes in the weeks after the Nov. 5 election, the commissioners voted unanimously that Sandra Tenorio will represent the rural community and Sam Tobar will represent the disabled community.

Commissioners set Nov. 15 as the deadline for the other appointments and plan to finalize the commission at their Nov. 19 meeting.

At the Oct. 29 meeting where the appointment were made, commissioners also decided to approve the inclusion of representatives from an additional five cities in the county: Uhland, Niederwald, Mountain City, Hays and Woodcreek. Previously, that list included only San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Dripping Springs and Wimberley.

The additional five city representatives brings the total number of members of the commission to 31.

In addition to the 10 city representatives and the two appointments made so far, the commission will include members nominated by four school districts—Hays CISD, San Marcos CISD, Wimberley ISD and Dripping Springs ISD; the chairs of the Hays County Democratic and Republican parties; representatives from both the major party organizations at Texas State University; one member of the League of Women Voters; and 10 general representatives, with two chosen by each of the county commissioners and two by the county judge.

Commissioners decided to wait to appoint their 10 general members until after nominations were made by the other governmental bodies.

“There could be someone that the municipalities are wanting to appoint, or ISDs are wanting to appoint, that we have already looked at for our appointments,” Commissioner Walt Smith said. “And I would like to at least give them the opportunity.”

Though the bodies that have representation on the citizens election commission can choose their own member, that person cannot be an elected official.

Hays County Elections Administrator Jennifer Anderson told the court that convening the citizens commission now will help the county be ready to look at polling location centers before and after the 2020 election, which is likely to have a much higher turnout.

“It’s good timing right now, after this November election as we move into 2020,” Anderson said. “2020 is going to give us really the best data we have for what locations will be utilized and what won’t and what worked and what didn’t.”

Smith recalled several meetings in August where county residents and representatives from advocacy groups expressed strong opinions about the initial list of vote center locations, which was later amended based, in part, on that feedback.

“We had folks stand at this podium and actually fall on swords for individual locations,” Smith said. “We’re going to know at the end of this month whether those locations were worthwhile or whether we had 10 voters there, and we want this commission to look at it.”


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