A public hearing on county-wide voting was conducted by Atascosa County Judge Bob Hurley and Janice Ruple, Atascosa County Elections Administrator, during the special called meeting of Commissioners Court on Monday morning. Various members from the community spoke positively on how county-wide voting was easily accessible and more convenient for voters everywhere in the county.
According to Judge Hurley, Commissioners Court is required to hold a public hearing on countywide voting as it is the final step in the county’s process to becoming a permanent county-wide voting county. All testimonies were to be recorded and sent to the Secretary of State for approval. Fourteen people were signed up to speak, including Janice Ruple, Atascosa County Elections Administrator, and Brenda Ochoa, Chief Deputy Voter Registrar, various voting box workers and voters.
Ruple informed commissioners that over 3,500 people voted this year and gave credit to the new system for the large turnout. To make her case in point, Ruple provided voter turnout numbers for the past three constitutional amendment election years: 915 voters in 2017, 2,153 voters in 2015 and 1,463 voters in 2013. “As you can see, the voter turnout increased this year almost double that in the past. The process was extremely easy and I foresee a larger turnout in years to come.”
Ochoa commended county-wide voting in that it was easier to inform voters on where they can vote, “I received nothing but positive feedback from voters, not only on Election
Day, but during Early Voting as well. In the past, voters would come to our office on Election Day to vote and we had to turn them away and direct them to their correct polling location. This year, with countywide voting, it was much easier to just tell them to go down the street to the Jourdanton Library, which was the closest polling location from our office, and cast their vote.”
Others who worked the polls expressed the same appreciation for county-wide voting, including Precinct 3 Election Judge, Jeanne Israel. “Precinct 3 is a small voting box. I’m interested in the people who came in to vote because we had 47 people from all over the county come in. I believe the advertisements and outreach on this new system really got out to a lot of people. I also believe that in a larger election with more local candidates, we can expect a larger voter turnout with county-wide voting. I just appreciate everything that the county has done to improve this process.”
Gayle Johnson, election clerk for JP 2 in Lytle thanked commissioners for approving countywide voting as it serves to provide multiple access to all citizens of Atascosa County. She stated the JP 2 voting box saw voters from Kyote, Jourdanton, McCoy, Somerset and Lytle.
Judge Hurley thanked all who spoke for providing their feedback on county-wide voting, especially the commissioners for approving the new voting system. He will be sending the recording of all testimonies to the Secretary of State and await their response, and hopefully approval, on Atascosa County becoming a permanent countywide voting county.