Hays County commissioners voted unanimously on Feb. 26 to authorize Hays County Election Administrator Jennifer Anderson to apply for the program. Anderson asked all local school district boards in Hays County to support the program through a resolution.
Currently, citizens in Hays County are able to vote at any county polling location during early voting, but are only allowed to vote at their individual precinct-designated polling place on Election Day. The Countywide Polling Place Program would make it permissible to vote at any county polling location on Election Day.
“I think improving voter turnout and voter accessibility is always a good thing,” Board Vice President Barbara Stroud said at the March 25 board meeting.
Prior to the DSISD vote, two individuals spoke during the meeting’s public forum and encouraged the board not to support the resolution, citing concerns including the program’s policy of using electronic voting machines without the option for paper ballots. Both residents also said they were concerned over the potential for digital voting fraud, as well as issues with Hays County voting machines.
“A vote for countywide polling place locations is a vote against free, fair and secure elections, the very things necessary for free, fair elected bodies like this to have any legitimacy,” constituent Martin McConahay said during public comment. “I ask that you vote no, because it’s against your constituents' best interests.”
During the discussion over the agenda item, trustees expressed some concern over voting machines, including complications over the purchase of new voting equipment, but ultimately supported the Hays County Commissioners Court recommendation.
“I’m not an elections expert, and I do not know about that part of this conversation [in detail],” Superintendent Bruce Gearing said. “What I do know is that these polling places will be more convenient for our voters, and it will potentially enhance our election. So my recommendation is that we do present this resolution.”
Trustees also noted that Hays County is required to hold public meetings to invite input from constituents as a part of its application to the polling program, and residents can choose to voice concerns during the process.
“Nothing that we do makes [the outcome] a done deal,” Stroud said.
While the five DSISD trustees present March 25 voted unanimously in favor of the resolution, Hays CISD’s board of trustees voted not to approve a similar resolution on the same night.