Henderson County Elections Administrator Denise Hernandez presented a proposed plan on Tuesday to switch to Vote Centers at a public hearing during Commissioners Court.

"The currently have 26 traditional polling places," Hernandez said. "Our proposal is to have 19 vote centers."

Commissioners Court will vote on the proposed plan within the next two weeks.

The recommended list of vote centers includes three new locations. The Cross Roads ISD gym

The Payne Springs Fire Station and Faith Baptist Church are proposed new voting spots.

"Cross Roads ISD would take the place of Willow Springs, which is a dead zone," Hernandez said.

Election law requires for becoming a vote center you have to have some WiFi connection."

Criteria used to choose the proposed polling places are, familiarity with the voters, accessibility, ADA compliance and ability to support a large turnout of voters and workers, Hernandez said.

Information about the plan will be mailed to all of the heads of households in the county, Hernandez said. Efforts will be made to inform the public on the county website and through various media.

"Keep in mind if we do decided to close any of the traditional sites we will post a notice on each of the previous polling place locations," Hernandez said.

Vote centers are an alternative to traditional, neighborhood-based precincts. If the county approves the vote center plan Election Day ballots can be cast at any of its center in the jurisdiction, regardless of the voters' residential address.

"We're not going to prevent any voters from voting," Hernandez said. "We just want to get the word out that voters can vote anywhere on election central."

Several members of the audience spoke at the public hearing, generally favoring a change to vote centers.

Longtime election judge Dot Mason said the new plan is an improvement over the traditional voting precinct method because if its flexibility for people who may work or do business in a part of the county several miles from their residences on election.

"We get so many complaints from people who say, 'I'm here. Why can't I vote here," Mason said.  

Belinda Mitchell said she favors the plan, not only for its convenience, but because it will save money.

"I think that's really important," Mitchell said.

The November Constitutional Amendment Election will give voters and election workers a chance to sample the system before the Republican and Democratic Primaries in 2020 and the presidential election in the fall.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Colorado was the first state to allow counties to adopt the system, beginning in 2005. The first in Texas Lubbock in 2006. Now the option has been opened up to all counties in the state, regardless of their size, Hernandez said.

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