Governmental entities always preach that they want more voters. Supposedly, officials want to know what voters think.
But the reality – at least in the Buda-Kyle area – is that the only early voting facility open simply can’t handle any more voters.
That’s certainly not the fault of voters. They have stood in line at the Precinct 2 County offices on Jack C. Hays Trail, waiting upwards of one hour. There has rarely been a break in the lines.
And that leads one to believe that county officials don’t really care what we think here in Buda and Kyle.
The problem, though, is that this predicament was totally predictable – and the county commissioners and election administrator didn’t look far enough ahead to get it fixed.
Without a doubt, Buda and Kyle are the fast growing portion of Hays County. Just looking at the 2015 census figures, the county breaks down as follows:
• San Marcos – 60,681
• Buda-Kyle area, including Mountain City, City of Hays, Niederwald and Uhland – 51,285
• Wimberley and Woodcreek – 4,198
• Dripping Springs and Bear Creek – 2,871
Hays County overall had a population in 2015 of 194,739, leaving 75,704 people living in areas not listed within city limits. And, certainly anyone who has watched the growth in suburbs knows that Buda, Kyle and Dripping Springs are being hit the hardest with huge population booms.
So, what’s the problem when it comes to voting?
The Buda-Kyle area had only one early voting location during the first week of early voting, with not a single spot east of I-35.
San Marcos, with only slightly larger population, had three locations – the government center, the LBJ Student Center and the Health Department.
Wimberley had one location – at the community center; Dripping Springs had one location – the Precinct 4 offices.
During the first full week of voting, including Sunday, San Marcos – in its three locations – had 10,254 people voting; in Precinct 2, 6,551 had voted; in Dripping Springs, 5,933 had voted; in Wimberley, 4,473 had voted.
Of those 10,254 residents who had voted in San Marcos, many were the disgusted residents from Kyle and Buda who drove to San Marcos, voted and were back home while those standing in line at the Precinct 2 office were still there, waiting their turn.
Waiting, waiting, waiting.
This is not to say that the county should shut down any of the early voting locations. Instead, more places need to be made available, including locations east of I-35.
It is not fair to make the residents in Buda, Kyle, Uhland, Mountain City and Niederwald and all the surrounding subdivisions stand in line for hours, while in San Marcos it takes 10 minutes to vote.
It is not fair to force residents from Niederwald and Uhland drive all the way to the west side to vote.
It almost seems that county officials don’t really want people in Buda and Kyle, especially those east of I-35, to vote.
And that’s a voice that certainly needs to be heard. Because, in the very near future, the population of the Buda-Kyle area will surpass that of San Marcos. At that point, even though San Marcos is the county seat, does it mean that San Marcos will have only a couple of voting locations, while Buda-Kyle has four or five?
No, that’s not the solution.
Instead, think ahead and give us here in the northeast corner of the county a chance to easily vote without standing in line for hours.
Our population growth and dominance demands it.
Local General Election polling places by precinct
129 City of Kyle Fire Station #2
221 ACC Hays Campus
223 Kyle City Hall
224 Buda City Hall
225 Hays County Precinct 2 Office
226 Hays Hills Baptist Church
228 Tom Green Elementary School
229 County Line Water Supply
230 Southern Hills Church of Christ
232 Southern Hills Church of Christ
234 Goforth Water Supply
236 Southern Hills Church of Christ
238 Southern Hills Church of Christ
Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2016.