State approves countywide voting in Tarrant County for November election

Tarrant County voters will have the option of voting at any polling site across the county for the Nov. 5 constitutional amendment election, after the state on Friday approved its plan for countywide voting.

As opposed to having to vote at a preassigned location, residents will be able to go to any of the 340 polling sites across Tarrant County, according to a press release from the county. The Texas Secretary of State was able to select as many as six counties with a population of 100,000 or more to implement countywide voting for the November election. On Friday, the secretary’s office selected Tarrant.

The county had until Aug. 22 to submit a plan for approval.

The implementation of countywide voting comes after the Tarrant County Commissioners last month approved the $11 million purchase of 3,000 new Hart Verity voting machines and 400 ballot scanners.

“It is our understanding that the county presently has sufficient equipment to conduct the November 5, 2019 constitutional amendment election,” Texas Secretary of State Director of Elections Keith Ingram said in a letter to Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley.

The Tarrant County Commissioners Court voted 4-1 in late June to move forward with a plan to implement a system with “vote centers,” which is similar to early voting and allows people to cast their vote at any polling place across the county. More than 55 other Texas counties have adopted the system.

Voters still have the option, of course, of voting at their normal location.

The Secretary of State requires that at least 65 percent of a county’s polling places are kept intact the first year of participating in the countywide voting program. No fewer than 50 percent of polling sites have to be kept intact after that.

Supporters of countywide voting say it can make voting more accessible and lead to increased voter turnout.

Early voting is available from Oct. 21 through Nov. 1.

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