Dallas County Officials Plan for More Places to Vote on Election Day

Dallas County residents will be able to vote at any polling location in the county, using new equipment, to cast their ballots on Election Day in November -- a year before the 2020 presidential election. Under an advisory committee's recommendations, Dallas County officials plan to join a statewide push to toss out the precinct-based voting system and allow residents to vote in places that are normally open only for early voting. Now they must decide which places will be designated voting centers on Nov. 5. County officials are holding a series of public meetings, which began Monday, before commissioners officially choose the locations based on the recommendations. Commissioners also approved a $25.5 million contract for equipment upgrades last month, and those changes would include replacing the paper poll books. Currently, Dallas County assigns a designated precinct location for residents to vote on Election Day. That has caused some confusion among voters and problems with ballots that have been turned in at the wrong polling place.Toni Pippins-Poole, Dallas County Elections administrator, estimated 30% to 40% of the county's provisional ballots, or ballots that have questions about voter eligibility, on average relate to the location of the ballot.The county's primary goal, Pippins-Poole said, is to ensure consistency and avoid confusion over the locations people are allowed to vote. Bilierae Johnson, city secretary of Dallas, said her office every election cycle receives complaints from residents who don't know where to cast their ballots. She hopes the change will increase voter turnout in the area."They're in North Dallas, and it's close to 7 o'clock and they've just been informed, 'No you need to go to southern Dallas to vote.' And folks wouldn't go," Johnson said. "The slightest inconvenience will discourage a voter from voting."If the recommendations are implemented, the county would have another 16 or 17 voting locations, Pippins-Poole said. The county advisory committee is currently recommending more than 500 locations total. With the new equipment, the voting on Election Day would be a two-step process: First, a voter signs in electronically at a polling location, similar to early voting. But the voter still gets a printed out paper ballot to cast. With the new equipment, on Election Day a voter would sign in electronically at a polling location, similar to early voting. But the voter would still get a printed out paper ballot to cast.Commissioners deliberately chose a paper-based voting system in the event of a recount, Pippins-Poole said, because it's "easier to have the confidence in election results in the event that a recount is necessary."Want to go?Here are public meetings scheduled so far. (We will update this list if more dates are announced.)Tuesday, June 25: Friendship West Baptist Church, 2020 W. Wheatland Road at 6-8 p.m. Thursday, June 27: West Dallas Multipurpose Room, 2828 Fish Trap Road at 6-7:45 p.m. Tuesday, July 9: Dallas County Administration Building (Alan Clemson Courtroom), 411 Elm Street on first floor at 6-8 p.m.   Continue reading...

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