Voter group marks 2021 as new goal date for countywide voting centers in Montgomery County

The Countywide Polling Place Program could be introduced in Montgomery County in the upcoming years.

The Countywide Polling Place Program could be introduced in Montgomery County in the upcoming years.

Updated July 24, 9:27 a.m.:

A local nonprofit that has encouraged Montgomery County to move to a countywide polling system in November has revised its recommendation and now projects that May 2021 will be the best time to implement the program.

Voter Awareness Council President Steve Leakey approached Montgomery County Commissioners Court during the public comment session June 25 to advocate for countywide voting on election days starting this November. The program would allow residents to vote at any precinct on election day rather than requiring ballots to be cast at a voter's home precinct. However, the logistics of implementing the program mean it will take more time to launch successfully, Leakey said July 19.

Montgomery County does not currently have countywide polling on election days. In order to implement the program for this November, it would require approval from the Commissioners Court and local leaders of both major parties before filing with the secretary of state’s office by Aug. 22.

"The vote center project is not going to happen this November, for really a couple of pretty good reasons," Leakey said. "No. 1, there are some telecommunications issues with some of the remote polling stations that would make their ability to catch potential fraudulent voters very difficult, ... and No. 2, the real time to do this is in May, so that if there are any bugs ... you can fix them."

The VAC put together a draft resolution of support for countywide voting centers it is sharing with organizations in the county to win signatures in support of the proposal.

"I am optimistic that it will happen in May of 2021," he said.

Harris County implemented the program in its May election this year and declared it a success in June. Voters in Harris County can now vote at a polling place in any county precinct on election days.

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough said recently he was not in favor of the system.

"We already have a system in place to accommodate peoples' inconvenience when voting, and that’s called two weeks of early voting, where a voter can vote at any early voting location, and mail-in ballots where voters may mail in their ballot if they qualify for mailing them in," Keough said in an email.

Keough said the Montgomery County Republican Party and Texas Republican Party oppose the idea. He said computerized voter lists would also be needed to allow instantaneous verification that a voter had not already voted, and the county's precincts were not all capable of handling high-speed data required by state law for the project.

Editor's note: This story was updated to include comments from Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


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