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WITH POLL: Bowie County likely to move to vote-anywhere system

by Karl Richter | July 17, 2022 at 10:54 a.m.
Election workers deliver ballot boxes to the Bowie County Courthouse on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in New Boston, Texas. For the 2022 general election, Bowie County will use a countywide Vote Center system. Residents will be able to vote at any of 22 locations, regardless of what precinct they live in. (Staff file photo by Karl Richter)

NEW BOSTON, Texas -- Pending approval by the state, Bowie County will move this year to a countywide Vote Center system that allows voting at any of 22 poll locations.

On Monday, the county Commissioners Court voted to ask the Texas secretary of state to let Bowie County participate in the Vote Center program, and local officials are "confident that (the county) will be allowed to," according to a news release from county Elections Administrator Pat McCoy.

If the request is approved as expected, on Election Day this fall Bowie County residents will be able to vote at any Vote Center regardless of which precinct they live in. Bowie would join more than 70 of Texas' 254 counties that use such a system.


"Countywide voting makes voting more convenient. It potentially increases the voter turnout, and it prevents eligible voters from being turned away or given a provisional ballot for being in the wrong voting precinct," McCoy told the Texarkana, Texas, City Council during a presentation Monday.

The number of poll locations will decrease from 34 to 22, some locations used in recent years would no longer be available, and some locations will be used for the first time. County commissioners will formally approve the new list of locations after the state has approved participation in the program.

Most locations will be in the eastern part of the county, where population is concentrated, but all of the small incorporated cities in the county will have at least one Vote Center.

McCoy said county officials selected the 22 proposed polling locations carefully, using criteria such as the availability of parking and privacy, as well as looking at where turnout has been high in the past. Though there will be fewer places to vote, he said he is hopeful that added convenience will increase overall turnout.

"Going from 34 to 22, you would immediately think, 'OK, some people are going to be disenfranchised.' That's not the case with the way we've got it worked out here.

"Fourteen of our 22 voting Vote Centers are sites that have previously been used as a polling location. Of the eight new locations ... five are within 100 yards or a half-mile of the previous locations," he said.

Secure computer systems will ensure that each voter receives the appropriate ballot and that no one can vote twice. Acquiring the necessary equipment has been a gradual process, McCoy said.

"We've been buying a little bit at a time. But through a lot of lobbying on my part and other individuals, other commissioners, we were able to use part of the (American Rescue Plan) money that is out there, and we were able to buy the additional equipment. ... We will have over a million dollars worth of equipment that we will deploy on election day," he said.

McCoy plans to inform the public about the new plan through direct mail; TV, radio and newspaper announcements; social media; and signage at former poll locations no longer used.

"We're going to make it work," McCoy said. "It's going to be better for the voter. It's going to give us not only convenience for the voters, but we think it's going to increase turnout. And we also believe that in the long term, it will be a cost savings for the county."

Print Headline: Bowie County likely to move to vote-anywhere system


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