Election Day in Bexar County Features New Voting Machines, Voting Centers

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New voting machines are unpacked for inspection before being shelved.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

New voting machines are unpacked for inspection before being stored in June 2019.

As voters go to the polls Tuesday for a constitutional amendment election, the transition from Bexar County’s old voting machines to its new ones with paper cards has gone smoothly, Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said.

In the summer, Bexar County commissioners approved a $12.5 million purchase of new voting machines to replace the 17-year-old system that the county had been using. More than 42,000 people turned out to use Bexar County’s new voting machines during the early voting period, which ended Friday. The Elections Department expects the total number of votes to exceed 50,000 after all votes are counted, including mail-in ballots.

“We were very pleased with the turnout for the early vote, but anticipate many additional voters will cast their ballots [on Election Day],” Callanen said in a statement Monday.

Election officials have only gotten a few complaints, Callanen said.

“We’ve gotten a few complaints and some people saying, ‘Why are we killing trees, why do I need this paper ballot, why do I need to take an extra seven seconds to put it in the tabulator?’” Callanen said. “It’s a new system.”

But election officials have also heard positive – and somewhat surprising – feedback.

“We had one gentleman say this makes me feel like I’m in Las Vegas,” Callanen said with a chuckle, referring to the action of putting a paper ballot into the electronic voting machine and tabulator.

The process of voting has remained largely the same, Callanen said. With the old machines, voters had to view each race whether or not they voted in them all. The voting machines still use a touch screen, but now voters have to print their selections and bring them to an electronic tabulator. A few voters have been confused by that step, Callanen said.

“After they review [their choices], there’s a button that says ‘Touch here, print card,’” Callanen said. “Right below that button is a button that says ‘exit.’ We’ve had some voters touch the exit button. It returns their card blank. So they haven’t lost their vote because the election officials say, ‘Go ahead, put it in.’ If there’s any one thing we’ve heard a couple of times, the voters have seen a totally blank card.”

More than 1,000 people will be working the polls on Tuesday, and voters can cast a ballot at any of Bexar County’s 284 poll locations under the new vote center model.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Read on for more information on this election and what you’ll need to bring with you.

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.

Where can I vote?

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. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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 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.

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

For your mail-in vote to count, it must be received by the elections department 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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