October 06, 2008
No super precincts in Galveston

I thought the idea of "super precincts" - that is to say, early voting-style locations on Election Day - had already been shot down. Apparently, it was still being pursued, but it was still rejected.

"The biggest issue is that many of our Galveston County voters are displaced," county elections coordinator Douglas Godinich said.

An idea proposed by a state representative to prevent displaced voters from becoming disenfranchised was rejected by the county clerk because of time constraints, and the county will move ahead with its normal election plan, Godinich said.

The idea was that Hurricane Ike evacuees who have found shelter in other areas of Galveston County would be able to vote at any county precinct Nov. 4 under a system some have dubbed "super precincts."

But Galveston County Clerk Mary Ann Daigle turned down an offer by the Secretary of State's Office to use super precincts because there wasn't enough time to complete the work needed to make the switch, Godinich said.

"We examined that option, and it is not a good fit," Godinich said.

State Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, said he met with Secretary of State officials a week ago to make sure that Galveston County had the option to use the super precincts, which are formally known as voting centers.

County Judge Jim Yarbrough could not be reached for comment, but Eiland said he had the backing of Yarbrough and several commissioners for the idea before he learned Thursday that it had been rejected.

"I would have preferred to be able to tell people on Election Day, 'If you're from Galveston, go to the poll where you are,' " Eiland said.

Godinich says that displaced voters can avoid problems by casting a ballot during early voting, Oct. 20-31, or casting an absentee ballot by mail by Oct. 28.

I can understand that there isn't time to implement a plan like this now, for this election. But how about we all agree that going forward, a standard aspect of hurricane planning is to have some contingency available for dealing with unusable or unreachable polling locations? This situation is going to happen again some day. Why not think about it now, so we can be ready for it then?

And just so we all know, today is the last day to register to vote in Texas. The Chron sidebar story has all the information:

Today is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election. For more information, go to http://www.sos.state.tx.us/

Are you a Harris County resident, a U.S. citizen 18 or older by Nov. 4, not serving a felony sentence (including parole) -- and still not registered to vote? Here are three ways you can register by today's deadline:

  • Complete and mail a postage-free Texas voter registration card, which can be obtained at public libraries, post offices, 16 county tax offices, county clerk marriage license offices, Texas Department of Public Safety offices and offices of the state Health and Human Services Commission, Department of Aging and Disability Services, Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services and Department of State Health Services. Card must be postmarked by today's date.
  • Print and complete a voter registration form from www.tax.co.harris.tx.us/
    and mail it with postage. Forms are available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. It must be postmarked with today's date.
  • Register with one of the county's 4,343 deputy voter registrars, most of whom are trained volunteers. Private groups continue their registration drives through today.

To check by computer to see if you are already listed as a registered Harris County voter:

Go to www.tax.co.harris.tx.us/voter/voter.asp

To get more information by telephone:
Call 713-368-VOTE (8683)

Last chance, people. Early voting starts in two weeks. Don't miss out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 06, 2008 to Election 2008
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