For a first time, all in all, things went smoothly.
That’s the opinion of Hays County’s Elections Administrator Jennifer Anderson.
The election on Nov. 5 marked not only the first time voters could cast their ballot at any Voting Center rather than having to report to the precinct in which they live, it also was the debut of new voting machines, replacing those that had been in use since 2004.
“Everybody loves the new machines far more than they did the old ones,” Anderson said. “And as far as Voting Centers go everybody was overwhelmingly happy they could go to any voting location.”
Anderson said given “all the components” of the election, “it went incredibly smooth.” She said election workers “were a little anxious up front,” but “calm, cool and happy doing what they were doing.”
Hays voters mirrored their counterparts statewide when it came to the 10 proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution, approving all but Proposition 1, and by nearly equal margins.
Kyle voters decided two city council seats, re-electing Dex Ellison to District 1 and Robert Rizo to District 3, while voters in Buda elected Terry Cummings to represent Single Member District C.
In Woodcreek, voters chose Brent H. Pulley out of a field of three for a city council at large seat; and voters in the Wimberley ISD chose Will Conley for Place 4.
Voters in Hays Emergency Services District No. 9 approved expanding the district. The Headwaters MUD was also approved.
Prior to the start of early voting, Hays residents had the opportunity to stop by the any of the county’s four precinct offices or the Government Center in San Marcos to try out the Hart InterCiivc Verity Duo Voting System machines. In addition to allowing voters to switch between English and Spanish at any time during the voting process, the machines also facilitated voting for people who need an adaptive device to cast their ballots. The system has a paper component that many voters felt was essential during Commissioners Court deliberations on choosing new machines.
Voter turnout in the Nov. 5 election was a scant 13.53 percent of the county’s 139,722 registered voters, though Anderson noted that in the election of 2017, only 3.5 percent of the then 200,000 registered voters cast ballots.
Constitutional amendment elections historically draw far fewer voters than do those that decide nationwide, statewide or even countywide contests, Anderson said. However, the Nov. 5 election was a good preparation for the Presidential election of 2020.
“I think it’s going to prove beneficial next year and we will be better prepared for the primaries” which occur in March. “We have new machines, new Vote Centers and a bunch of new election workers. We’ll e much better prepared.”
Although the figures on individual Vote Centers haven’t been broken down, Anderson said she is opposed to taking away any Vote Center, even those who drew the fewest voters.”
She said the somewhat higher voter turnout with Vote Centers seems to have proven true across the state. “It’s still far from the number of registered voters but much higher than in the past for these types of elections … I think people are interested.”