Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Give voters options to raise participation
By By the Advocate Editorial Board
Jan. 24, 2013 at 6:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 23, 2013 at 7:24 p.m.
Voting is a right and responsibility shared by all American citizens. Our country is founded on the rights of citizens to choose their government - from the president down to the city council.
Because voting plays such an important part in our society, any effort to make voting easier or more convenient is a step in the right direction. On Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., the Victoria County Elections Office will host a public hearing at the Dr. Pattie Dodson Public Health Center to discuss the possibility of moving from precinct-specific polling sites to general "vote centers" for the May and November elections.
These general sites would be open for anyone in the county to come and place their ballots. Each site would also be centrally located to make it easier for voters to locate, rather than having to track down one specific location on Election Day. By giving voters options, it increases the convenience and opportunity for residents to stop and vote as they go about their daily lives.
This approach is similar to how Victoria County handled early voting in previous elections. During early voting, voters could vote at the downtown Glass Street voting office or go to a few other locations provided in different areas around town. But on Election Day, voters were only able to vote at their designated precinct. This could be confusing and frustrating for voters, as Victoria County has 35 precincts. A voter's precinct is listed on their voter registration card, but the cards also list several other precincts in addition to the voting precinct, which can cause confusion if a voter does not know how to properly read his or her card. Creating general voting centers will do away with this confusion by allowing anyone to vote at whichever location is most convenient for them.
We approve of this concept for voting in Victoria County. We think using this system will encourage higher voting numbers by taking away some of the restrictions and confusion possible on Election Day. We encourage the Victoria County Elections Office to examine this system and give voters an opportunity to use it. Obviously, this will require some technological safeguards such as a computer database that can be updated instantaneously to prevent voters from casting ballots at multiple locations, but we think this is can be a viable, effective system to serve Victoria County.
We hope members of the community will attend this meeting Tuesday and examine the proposal from the elections office. This system could be a step in the right direction for voting in Victoria County.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.