By Camelia Juarez
A fight is on when it comes to which end of the county will get new polling locations and which will be cut back.
A public discussion was held about future voting poll locations nearly five days before jurisdictions are required to turn in their list of polling locations to the court.
The voting locations discussed are for the Nov. 5 general election, including constitutional amendments, and also Buda and Kyle city elections.
Residents and college students spoke up about more voting locations in Kyle and on the east side of the county, about fewer in Wimberley, and adding a voting location on Texas State University’s campus.
Several citizens expressed a need for more polling locations on the east side of Hays County, especially east of I-35.
A general breakdown by county commissioner precinct shows Buda and parts of Kyle in Precinct 2 with 35,619 registered voters. Precinct 4, which takes in Dripping Springs and comes into western Kyle has the most voters at 36,799. Precinct 1, which includes just south of Kyle and a large portion of San Marcos has the lowest numbers – 30,593 voters. Precinct 3, which includes western San Marcos and the college and west to Wimberley has 32,849 voters.
However, even with those numbers, finding the right voting location is difficult.
Sandra Dinarello, a member of the county election committee, explained the difficulties of finding a polling place on the east side of Kyle that meets the voting location requirements.
“I personally drove through the east side of Kyle and Buda looking for locations that meet the requirements. We had brainstormed ideas, but it is difficult to find places with storage, strong Wi-Fi, parking and ADA. Whoever tells me ‘Well, you ought to check out the east side,’ I am going to challenge you to give me some places,” Dinarello said.
A number of concerned citizens felt that there were too many polling locations in Wimberley and not enough in Kyle, based on the population growth of each town. However, Election Administrator Jenifer Anderson assured citizens that the current list is not final.
“I know we are going to add to Kyle. I want to emphasize is that this is just a recommendation process. People are saying ‘Why do we have six locations in Wimberley?’ Well, we have six recommendations in Wimberley,” Anderson said.
There was also a bit of discussion about what to do about voting at Texas State University.
A University of Texas student Zachary Price said he helped convince Travis County Commissioners to add a two polling locations to the University of Texas campus. Price said the statistics used for the University of Texas apply to Texas State.
“Based on the number of voters coming out in the university area, there should be seven to eleven polling locations on campus. Those numbers back up every large university in the state and if Texas State does not have a polling location it is likely to be the only large university in the state without an on-campus polling location,” Price said.
Members of the court said they had discussions with Texas State officials about opening a voting location on campus. Texas State is prepared to offer free parking and utilize a newly constructed portion of the LBJ Student Center to meet voting poll requirements. However, that location is the only spot easily accessible to the public.
The list of polling locations will be finalized when the court votes on the list. The list of locations under consideration include 16 places in San Marcos, six in Kyle, five in Buda, five in Wimberley, two in Dripping Springs and three with Austin addresses, but within Hays County.