BOWIE COUNTY -- Bowie County implemented a countywide voting system for the first time this year, and officials say the process went well for the most part.
The Texas Secretary of State approved the transition to countywide voting in August, allowing citizens to vote at any polling location on election day. The move was meant to eliminate the rush for voters to have to get to an assigned precinct that may be out of the way, instead making it possible for them to simply go to the nearest voting center.
"Overall, we are very satisfied with how it went," said Pat McCoy, elections administrator for Bowie County. "There were some minor technology glitches that we were able to manage on election day, but nothing that affected votes or results in any way. I heard more positive comments than I did negative comments from voters."
McCoy said some of the negatives mentioned to him included people who couldn't find where they were supposed to vote.
"We sent out over 40,000 flyers to every voting household in Bowie County. We put it in the paper twice. We put it on our webpage and our social media accounts," he said. "But if you think about it, some individuals who are older may not be on Facebook. They may not look at my web page and they might not read the newspaper anymore because they don't deliver every day. So that group, I can understand them not being able to find the locations."
McCoy said he waited outside of vote centers to get feedback from older folks on the process.
"A lot of them were a little hesitant at first, but when they finished, I'd ask them, 'How did that go? Was that difficult?' And most of them said no," he said.
"That made me feel real good."
Bowie County saw 26,659 voters in this year's midterm elections, down a bit from the 2018 midterm elections, where there were about 28,000, according to the elections office.
McCoy noted that there was a senatorial race between Ted Cruz and Beto O'Rourke that resulted in historic voter turnout in 2018, skewing those numbers.
"Knowing that and then looking at this election, especially here in Bowie County where there weren't any local, contested races, I'm well pleased with the turnout."
Some locations that have historically had low voter turnout more than doubled their numbers on election day, McCoy said.
Red Springs Baptist Church shot up from its historical 200 to 300 voters on election day to 811 voters this year. DeKalb was up from about a 400-voter average to 948 this year.
"That's a major jump," McCoy said. "Now, I'm not necessarily going to take the credit for that being because of county-wide voting, but we've got more locations where we had heavy turnout also that didn't in the past."
He said his office won't know the full extent of how the countywide voting system will affect voter turnout until after another election cycle.
Before Dec. 8, 2022, the elections office is required to undergo a complete evaluation of the countywide voting system, which is forwarded to the Secretary of State's Office to see if they can continue countywide voting indefinitely.
"We have no doubt that they will do that. But in that evaluation process, we are going to look at paperwork, technology and just little things like that."
He said a few of the tweaks that may be made to the system moving forward include making some of the training more user-friendly and adding more field techs.