Early Voting Gives Bexar County Chance to Use New Voting Machines

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New voting machines are unpacked for inspection before being shelved.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

New voting machines await inspection June 17 before going into storage.

Bexar County residents can use new voting machines when early voting starts on Monday at 8 a.m.

“Our technology was 17 years old, and believe it or not, the system ran on XP computers,” Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said at a Friday news conference. “How many of us still have XP computers? It was time to upgrade.”

(For reference, Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP devices in 2014.)

Each unit is compatible with the Americans with Disabilities Act and allows users to choose English or Spanish to vote, Callanen said. Just like the previous machines, voters will see each race on an electronic screen. But now, voters’ selections will be printed on a paper slip and scanned into an electronic tabulator, which counts the ballots. The ballots are stored in a secure box, and then transported to the Elections Department’s locked storage facility when the boxes are full.

“People were demanding a paper trail so you could audit the election afterwards,” Callanen said. “This system does that for us.”

The Elections Department has 2,500 touch screen machines and 328 tabulators, Callanen said. The machines are not connected to the internet, she added.

Callanen said the Elections Department expects a fairly low turnout. She estimated that out of the 1.1 million people registered to vote in Bexar County, about 50,000 would cast a ballot.

“The amendment elections are very low turnout,” Callanen said. “That’s just the nature of the beast … we had 38,000 people vote in 2017. So we’re hoping we’ll get to [50,000] this time.”

Voters will be able to cast ballots on 10 state constitutional amendments and elections for 11 entities, including the San Antonio River Authority. Hill Country Village, the City of Sandy Oaks, and Somerset Independent School District are also holding bond elections. Find the generic sample ballot for Bexar County here.

Early voting starts on Monday, and runs through Nov. 1. Polls are open every day, though hours vary. There are 36 sites scattered around Bexar County, all equipped with the new electronic-and-paper voting machines. Read on for what else you need to know for this election.

Am I registered to vote?

You can check your voter registration status here. All you need is your Voter ID number or Texas Driver’s License number, your name, county of residence, and date of birth.

When can I vote?

Early voting starts Monday, Oct. 21 and ends Friday, Nov. 1. Polls are open:

  • 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 21 through Friday, Oct. 25;
  • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26;
  • Noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 27;
  • 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday, Oct. 28 through Wednesday, Oct. 30;
  • 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 31 and Friday Nov. 1.

Find early voting locations and hours here

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5. It will be Bexar County’s first election with the vote center model, which means Bexar County residents can cast a ballot at any polling location in the county.

What do I need to bring with me to vote?

You need to provide one of the following seven forms of identification:

  • Texas Driver License issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas Personal Identification Card issued by DPS
  • Texas Handgun License issued by DPS
  • United States Military Identification Card containing your photograph
  • United States Citizenship Certificate containing your photograph
  • United States Passport (book or card)

If you don’t have one of the seven forms of identification listed above and can’t reasonably get one, you can also bring one of these:

  • A copy or original of a government document that shows your name and an address, including your voter registration certificate;
  • A copy of or original current utility bill;
  • A copy of or original bank statement;
  • A copy of or original government check;
  • A copy of or original paycheck; or
  • A copy of or original of (a) a certified domestic (from a U.S. state or territory) birth certificate or (b) a document confirming birth admissible in a court of law which establishes your identity, which may include a foreign birth document.

If your chosen form of identification – such as your driver’s license or passport – doesn’t have the same address as your voter card, bring a utility bill with you to the polls as proof of address. You can also cast a provisional ballot.

Where can I vote?

During early voting, there are 36 early voting sites, including the Bexar County Elections Department. Find early voting locations and hours here. Voters are no longer confined to specific precincts on election day, and can vote at any Bexar County polling location on Nov. 5.

What about absentee ballots?

You can vote by mail if you are:

  • Going to be away from your county on Election Day and during early voting
  • Sick or disabled
  • 65 years of age or older on Election Day
  • Confined in jail, but eligible to vote

You can request an application for an absentee ballot from the elections department, or print one out here. Applications for absentee ballots must be received by elections department by Friday, Oct. 25. And for your vote to count, it must be received by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 6 and be postmarked by Nov. 5.

What’s on the ballot?

Texans will vote on 10 state constitutional amendments in the election, ranging from prohibiting an individual income tax – which already requires a statewide referendum to establish – to allowing law enforcement animals to be given to a qualified caretaker. 

Some of the amendments create new funding tools for different entities. Proposition 5 would allow state parks to use the sales tax on sporting goods as a funding mechanism, while Proposition 2 would allow the Texas Water Development Board to issue bonds to finance water infrastructure projects in “economically distressed areas.” 

A majority vote is required to pass an amendment, and in 2017, all seven constitutional amendments passed. Find the constitutional amendment language and explanations here.

Castle Hills City Council has two seats on the ballot in a special election triggered by one removal and one resignation, while Converse, Sandy Oaks, Schertz, and Windcrest also have City Council seats on the ballot. Find a generic sample ballot for Bexar County here.

Have more questions?

Check out VoteTexas.gov. Or ask us, and we’ll find an answer for you.

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