Harris County Commissioners Court proceeds with countywide polling place program application

After several hours of listening to public opinions both of support and concern regarding the implementation of a countywide polling place program, Harris County Commissioners Court opted to proceed with the application process to participate in the program Feb. 12.

Participation in the program would allow Harris County voters to cast ballots at any of the 700 polling locations across the county. While Harris county voters can currently vote at any polling location during the early voting period, on election day voters are restricted to their assigned polling location based on the voting precinct in which they live.

According to County Clerk Diane Trautman, the countywide polling place program is used in 52 other Texas counties.

The item was previously discussed at the Jan. 8 Commissioners Court meeting, at which roughly 30 residents and representatives from community groups signed up to speak on the proposed program during the public hearing portion of the meeting. While several of those individuals were able to speak Jan. 8, the public hearing was recessed and reopened Feb. 12 for the remaining speakers.

During the continuation of the public hearing Feb. 12, supporters of the program touted anticipated increased voter participation in Harris County, stating that the program would eliminate confusion over assigned polling locations while making it more convenient for residents to complete their civic duties.

"We're asking you to support the countywide voting places so that we can increase accessibility," an attendee said during the public hearing. "In the places that have used countywide voting, we have found that voting [participation] goes up. I think we need to do what we can to make [voting] easier for people."

At the Jan. 8 meeting, Trautman proposed leaving all 700 election day polling locations open for the first few elections and then suggested the court could look at voting patterns to determine if polling locations should be consolidated or relocated.

Opponents of the program shared concerns over the potential relocation or closure of longtime polling locations, as they believe it could hinder voter turnout for residents who are accustomed to voting at their preferred polling location.

"[The consolidation or relocation of polling locations] would dismantle long-established neighborhood voting locations," an attendee said during the public hearing.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle proposed applying for the program without the option to relocate or consolidate polling locations and stated that he would not be in favor of not closing any traditional voting locations in the near future.

Following the lengthy public hearing and discussion between the judge and commissioners, the court unanimously authorized Trautman to submit an application to the Texas secretary of state to participate in the program, authorized by the Texas Election Code and subject to review by the county attorney.

Upon the application submission and pending approval from the Texas secretary of state, Trautman said during a community meeting Feb. 5 the countywide polling place program could be implemented in Harris County as early as the upcoming May election.



The show is making a stop at Sam Houston Race Park this December. (Courtesy UniverSoul Circus)
Cy-Fair hosts events and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Houston area.

Mediterraneo Market & Cafe (Alex Grant/Community Impact Newspaper)
IMPACTS ROUNDUP: Mediterraneo relocating by end of year and more

Here is a roundup of local business news in Clear Lake and League City.

Houston residents can apply for $1,200 stimulus-style checks. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Houston residents can get $1,200 in aid and more popular area stories

Read the past week's most popular stories from the Houston area.

Council Member Robert Gallegos, Arturo Michel, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Ron Lewis.
Mayor announces changes among Houston’s top-level staff

Several key staff are retiring or leaving for new positions.

League City wants to paint traffic utility boxes with miniature murals, similar to those seen in Houston. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)
League City to create painted murals on utility boxes

In an effort to create a sense of place, beautify areas, attract visitors and instill civic pride, League City is considering painting miniature murals on traffic utility boxes throughout the city.

Williams comes to CCISD from Loudoun County, Virginia. (Screenshot courtesy Clear Creek ISD)
Eric Williams named Clear Creek ISD superintendent

Per Texas law, the board was required to wait a minimum of 21 days before voting to appoint Williams, its lone finalist. He will start Jan. 18, 2021; Greg Smith’s last day is Dec. 31.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Dec. 2 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has allotted 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to the state of Texas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
First allotment of COVID-19 vaccinations expected to arrive in Texas in mid-December

About 1.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been allotted to the state of Texas and will arrive the week of Dec. 14.

The Coastal Texas Study includes proposals for several projects meant to protect Galveston Bay with multiple lines of defense from major storms. (Courtesy Army Corps of Engineers)
Environmentalists question proposed coastal barrier, ask for deadline extension to comment on plan

Several local environmental groups and experts have opposed portions of the coastal barrier proposal and are asking for an extension to the public comment portion of the plan.

The East Montgomery County Industrial Park off Gene Campbell Road will welcome the Lowe's Distribution Center in July. (Courtesy East Montgomery County Improvement District)
Lowe's to bring 200 jobs to Montgomery County and more Houston-area news

Read the latest Houston-area business and community news.

Exploration Green in Clear Lake is a great example of sustainable re-use of land, Houston Wilderness officials said; many of the trees being planted at the conservancy are particularly good for the environment. (Courtesy Exploration Green)
Houston Wilderness aims to restore ecosystems, increase carbon absorption through large-scale tree plantings

Houston Wilderness connects people to geographically defined ecosystems across eight counties in Greater Houston and spurs action through initiatives. The organization is coordinating five large-scale plantings over the next three months.

Harris County has launched a tool to allow homeowners to identify appraisal activity in their neighborhood. (Courtesy Pexels)
Harris County Appraisal District launches new 'Appraiser Field Operations Map' tool

Harris County has launched a tool to allow homeowners to identify appraisal activity in their neighborhood.