More early voting locations are among coronavirus precautions that could be implemented for the November elections, if enough poll workers can be found.
“This is a time when it’s hard to get workers, so we’ll just have to see how many people come forward,” local Elections Administrator Todd Stallings told county commissioners, who on June 16 accepted a $54,000 grant created to safeguard voters during the pandemic.
Part of the federal coronavirus relief package, the grant funding enables the Elections Office to spread out voters among more early voting locations, Stallings said, but more poll workers must be recruited.
“Willie Nelson had the song, ‘If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve got the Time,’” he said. “‘I may change my election theme to ‘I’ve Got the Money if You’ve Got the Time.’ I’m going to probably ask everybody around this courthouse to try and recruit us workers.”
Temporary branch early voting locations, including one in walking distance of SFA, were added in 2018 based on geography. The following fall, the state via HB 1888 banned polling locations that weren’t open eight hours a day for the entirety of early voting, something Stallings felt would be too expensive for the county.
But with the grant money, he says, it is “something that we could possibly do now.”
“Of course it would take a lot of people to run all of these polling places, so the number of people willing to commit for two weeks would be a factor in how many we might be able to open,” he said.
Delayed due to coronavirus, local elections originally scheduled for May — including a local option liquor election in Appleby and a number of school board and city races — will also be held in November.
“I think it would make the most sense to first partner with the other entities in the county who will also be having elections in November, so people can vote on everything that applies to them at the same place in their areas,” Stallings said. “Then, we could start looking at what additional sites would make the most sense to add in other areas of the county.”
A recent push to allow all Texas voters to cast ballots by mail during the coronavirus pandemic fizzled after turning into a political tug of war in the court system. But even so, Stallings says his office is seeing an increase in mail ballot requests among those who do qualify. The grant funds also pay for supplies and personnel to process mail ballots, he said.