Countywide voting in Atascosa County is underway with early voting starting on Monday, October 21 through Nov. 1. In September, county wide voting was approved for a “test” election which according to Atascosa County Judge Bob Hurley was a giant step forward to voter accessibility and making voting easier. Voters began using the new system that also did away with paper ballots. A new electronic voting system called ExpressVote is promised to be as easy as 1, 2, 3.
Judge Hurley commented that he is so gratified that Bexar County is taking the same path as we have in making voting more accessible to our citizens. “Their equipment is identical to ours,” said Judge Hurley. “Their plan is identical to ours, and it’s just nice to have our big neighbor to the north following the same path as we are.”
The new system Express Vote machines purchased from Election Systems and Software provides a verifiable paper trail plus easy to use, user friendly options especially designed to put people not used to technology at ease. The system is multilingual and is ADA friendly. It has an instruction panel that serves as a visual guide that shows voters how to use ExpressVote.
Yesterday, Janice Ruple, Atascosa County Elections Administrator and Brenda Ochoa, Chief Deputy Voter Registrar gave an overview of how the first day of voting went. They said that some people were apprehensive about the non-paper ballot but virtually every voter left saying, “That was easy.” The County is required to have staff at every polling place that can assist anyone with the electronic voting system. Additionally, persons are allowed to bring a person with them to help and even a candidate. The individual that they bring must sign a form at the polling location.
Judge Hurley’s primary goal is to make voting as easy and accessible as possible in an effort to increase voting. If you live in Charlotte but work in Pleasanton, no worries you may vote in Pleasanton. “Countywide voting means that you cannot go to the wrong polling station ever again and you cannot vote at more than one polling station,” said Judge Hurley. “You will be able to go to “any” polling station in Atascosa County and vote and your vote will be counted and your act of voting will be recorded at the Secretary of State’s Office in Austin. Now, to go to this process, using our new voting machines, we must end the “old” manual paper ballot. If you have not used the new machines yet, once you do you will like it.”
At the end of the November 5 General Election, Atascosa County must submit how the test election went, including voter turnout and how the polling stations did. “We must indicate it went well. If we can prove it went well, then we’re done. We are permanently countywide voting,” said Judge Hurley.
The county added two more early voting stations to further increase voter turnout. There are three early voting locations in Atascosa County:
Atascosa County Annex 2 Elections Office, 914 Main Street, #115, Jourdanton, TX, 78026
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2, 1567 FM 3175, Lytle, TX 78052
Justice of the Peace, Precinct 4, 744 Hwy. 281 S., Pleasanton, TX 78064
The locations are open to voting from 8-5 Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Tuesday, October 29, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“I’ve never missed a vote in my life,” said Hurley. “I even voted absentee when I was stationed in the military. People died so you can have that right. They’ve served and they’ve lost their lives and they’ve lost much. It’s sad that some people choose not to vote.”