FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Tarrant County Commissioners Court adopted the Vote Centers model in July 2019, which was implemented by Tarrant County Elections beginning with the November 5, 2019 Election.
WHAT ARE VOTE CENTERS?
'Vote Centers' is a term used to refer to the Countywide Polling Place Program defined in the Texas Elections Code — an alternative to precinct-specific polling locations. Vote Centers allow registered voters to vote at any polling location within the County on Election Day, a convenience previously only enjoyed during the Early Voting period.
WHY VOTE CENTERS?
Vote Centers are aimed at increasing customer satisfaction, reducing errors, boosting voter turnout, and lowering costs. There are three (3) main reasons, according to the Tarrant County Election Administration Department:
- Voters may have an easier, more pleasant experience if they are not required to vote within their own precinct.
- There will be no more provisional ballots rejected because the voter is at the wrong location. In the past, 30% of rejected provisional ballots were due to the voter going to the wrong location.
- If the Commissioners Court determines that this program would mean that fewer polling locations were necessary. there could be annual cost savings.
WHO DETERMINES POLLING LOCATIONS?
The two major political parties determine locations for the Primary Elections. Municipalities (cities, school districts, etc.) determine polling locations for Municipal Elections. The County Commissioners Court determines polling locations for the General Elections.
HOW DO VOTE CENTERS EFFECT VOTE BY MAIL?
They do not. Vote Centers do not change the rules for voting by mail (also known as absentee voting).
HOW DO VOTE CENTERS AFFECT EARLY VOTING?
They do not. Vote Centers do not change the rules for Early Voting.
WILL VOTERS BE ABLE TO VOTE ON PAPER BALLOTS?
No. Because Vote Centers allow any registered voter to vote at any polling location there will be no paper ballots to complete by hand. Instead, all votes will be cast on an electronic voting machine that will print out your completed ballot. The voter will take their completed ballot and feed it into a scanner for tabulation before it is automatically dropped into a ballot box for archiving.
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT CURBSIDE VOTING?
Voters eligible to vote curbside will still be able to do so.
WHAT WAS THE APPROVAL PROCESS AND WHO IS INVOLVED?
Converting to Vote Centers is a multi-step process, including:
- Tarrant County must have the proper voting equipment for the Secretary of State to approve the application to implement the Vote Centers model.
- A Citizen's Advisory Committee (CAC) completed a methodology for selecting Vote Center locations on June 13, 2019.
- The Commissioners Court held a public comment session on July 2, 2019.
- The Commissioners Court voted 4-1 to apply with the Secretary of State to implement the Vote Centers model on July 2, 2019.
- An application was made to the Secretary of State on or before August 22, 2019.
- Vote Centers were implemented in Tarrant County beginning with the November 2, 2019 Election.
- Tarrant County Elections received public comment and input on Vote Centers at a public hearing on Tuesday, November 19, 2019, and via email through Wednesday, November 27, 2019
- The Secretary of State is considering whether to allow Tarrant County to permanently adopt the Vote Centers model.
ARE ANY OTHER COUNTIES IN TEXAS USING VOTE CENTERS?
Yes! Collin County, Hood County, Parker County, and Travis County are some of the counties that have already implemented the Vote Centers model. Harris and Dallas Counties were also in the process of applying in 2019.
ARE YOU TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION TRANSPORTATION WHEN CONSIDERING POSSIBLY CLOSING VOTING LOCATIONS?
Yes. One of the benefits of Vote Centers is accessibility. Ideal locations will be accessible via public transportation or located in areas that have a high population of voters who do not drive, e.g. university campuses or senior centers. At this time, it is the decision of the Court to keep all current polling locations in place.
WHO SHOULD I CONTACT IF I HAVE QUESTIONS?
Tarrant County Elections can answer any questions and record any input you have on Vote Centers. For any Elections related questions, call 817-831-8683 or email the Elections Office. You can also contact your County Commissioner to provide your input on the implementation of the Vote Centers model. Commissioner Devan Allen's office can be reached at 817-248-6099 or via email.
Last updated: December 2019