By: Judge R. Travis Ransom
If you have ever gone to the wrong polling location only to be turned around and told to vote elsewhere, you are not alone. Cass County has twelve different polling locations arrayed all around the county by precinct. Counties strive to have a voting location within 25 miles of a voter’s residence. After each census, precinct lines are adjusted to ensure each precinct represents roughly the same number of voters or within a 2.5% margin of one another. Additionally, some polling locations change due to the availability of the venue or poll workers to staff the location. For example, generations voted at the old O’Farrell Community Center until it burned several years ago. Now, those voters must go elsewhere. It can be frustrating to be turned around at a polling location. Especially if you’ve waited in a long line after work to exercise your civic duty. Many election workers have reported turning folks away at the polling location due to the voter being in the wrong location. Even with extended polling hours on Election Day, if you work on one side of the county but live on the other side of the county it can be hard to make it back to your precinct polling location before polls close in the evening.
Cass County purchased updated voting equipment over a year ago, ahead of new voter security measures set to be implemented by 2026. With innovative technology, comes new capability to ease the burden of voting, improve turnout, and voter engagement while ensuring our elections are secure. Our existing voting machines have the capability to handle centralized voting without any additional cost. As Cass County prepares for future elections, we plan to apply to the Texas Secretary of State to allow centralized voting in Cass County. This would mean citizens of Cass County could vote at any Cass County polling location on Election Day instead of having to locate your specific precinct to vote in. Moving to county-wide or centralized voting reduces confusion on Election Day because voters can be accepted at any county polling location and their vote will count. This may be especially beneficial for those who work, for example, at Graphic Packaging but live on the other side of the county. Those workers would be able to vote at the Domino location near the mill instead of having to rush back to their home precinct to vote.
Under our current system, we have twelve polling places disbursed around the county and two early voting locations in Linden and Atlanta respectively. Early voting locations are already “centralized” and allow voters from anywhere in the county to vote at either location. However, under the current construct, voters must find their home precinct polling location to vote on Election Day. If the County is allowed to move forward with the centralized voting proposal, it would allow voters to vote at any Cass County polling location on Election Day. Future redistricting would have less impact on polling locations going forward. This should serve to stabilize the more frequently used polling locations while an honest assessment can be done of those locations which may not be needed over time. However, initial plans are to keep all polling locations active but allow for centralized voting. Cass County is quickly becoming the example rural Texas county for innovation, transparency, and accessibility. Centralized voting is the latest forward-looking initiative that should serve to simplify voting, improve turnout, and increase convenience on Election Day. Our citizens expect nothing less. We welcome feedback on this, or any other county related topic. Feel free to reach out to the Cass County Judge’s office or County Clerk’s office with any specific questions on this initiative.