DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Big changes are likely on the way in Dallas County that would make it easier to vote on Election Day this November.
Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippins Poole said, “This is a big deal.”
Under a plan approved Tuesday by County Commissioners, voters would be able to go to any polling place in the county on Election Day.
That’s because the county would turn each of its polling places into voting centers.
“The voter has 485 choices so no matter where you work, where you play, where you live or if you’re just passing through, you see a flag or sign that says we’re voting here, you can vote there,” said Pippins Poole.
The Texas Secretary of State must still give final approval.
The voting centers are used during early voting, where residents can vote where they want, but the number of choices is far more limited, between 50 and 55 in Dallas County.
Residents have only been allowed to vote in their precinct on Election Day.
Pippins Poole said when people are allowed to vote anywhere in the county on Election Day, it will eliminate the problem of people showing up at the wrong polling location. “We want to make sure no voter is turned away, no voters lose their right to vote.”
To make this a reality, the county is buying new equipment for the first time in 20 years.
Every machine is accessible to the disabled.
Residents will vote on a touchscreen, print out their ballot on paper — proof of how they voted — then insert it into the ballot box themselves.
Starting this May for municipal elections, the county will use these electronic poll books, which Pippins Poole said are faster checking people in, and guard against potential voter fraud on Election Day. “You need to make sure since voters can go anywhere they don’t go anywhere twice.”
The county is investing $30 million in technology.
Hector Flores, a former National LULAC President and member of the county’s citizens elections advisory council, said he loves the plan. “There’s no reason why people can’t vote. They can’t complain anymore.
It’s going to be more voter-friendly.
In the past, a lot of the elected offices have been won by a minuscule number of voters who actually show up to the polls to vote.”
Residents in Collin, Jack, Kaufman, Navarro and Parker Counties have already been able to vote anywhere in their counties on Election Day.
Other counties will use the same new equipment as Dallas County.
They include Ellis County for the municipal elections in May, and Collin, Rockwall and possibly Tarrant Counties in November.