Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

November 5, 2012

Elections office ready for the ballot battle

By Janet Jacobs
Associated Press

Corsicana — It’s been a difficult year for elections.

Fights over redistricting meant the delay of the primaries, then it was nearly back-to-back elections with the local elections, the primaries and the primary run-off, and now there’s the general election.

For Navarro County Elections Administrator Danda Parker, 9 p.m. Tuesday will be a relief.

Because of modern election technology, and the fact that Navarro doesn’t have a huge population, the only delay in counting the votes is how fast the election judges can drive the election boxes to the courthouse.

“We’re usually out of here by 9:30 p.m.,” she said.

On Monday, the day before election day, no one was rushing around making last-minute preparations. The election staff, consisting of Parker, Annette Kennedy and Melissa Grimes, did make sure the election machines had the correct time, because of the end of Daylight Saving Time Sunday, but other than that their time was spent signing out 119 voting machines and 30 laptop computers to 30 election judges, and answering hundreds of questions from the public.

Common questions include:

Where do I go to vote? (A list of polling places are available on-line, or in the newspaper.)

Can I vote early Monday? (No, early voting ended Friday)

Am I registered? (If you didn’t get a registration card, chances are no, but you can call and confirm.)

And then there was the guy who wanted to know if they’d just cast his vote for him?

(No, they wouldn’t.)

Things also get fairly testy around elections with raised voices and cries of “denying my rights.” Often, it’s people who just realized they aren’t registered, or their registration lapsed because they moved, or people who never registered but want to vote anyway.

“We’ve had some confrontations,” Kennedy said. “People don’t understand they have some responsibility in this, too. They have to keep their address updated.”

The polls will open at 7 a.m., but the phones will start ringing before that. At 8 a.m., the ballot board of eight members will start verifying signatures and counting the 800 or so mail-in or absentee ballots.

And the phones will ring all day with people asking her to cast their votes. Some polling places are different this year, thanks to redistricting, but that was cleared up before the primaries.

“Of course, we have a lot of people who only come out every four years,” Kennedy said. “So we ask them to check before they go.”

Voters who go to the wrong precinct and can’t be bothered to go to the right place will be allowed to vote, but it won’t be counted, Parker said.

Those aren’t the only exceptions, of course. People who are registered in other counties, even other states, want to know if they can vote here.

The answer is maybe. People registered in other parts of Texas can use a limited ballot during early voting to cast ballots on the national and state stuff, but not the local stuff. In Navarro County, 63 people have cast limited ballots this year.

And no, people not registered in Texas can’t vote in Texas at all.

Provisional ballots are those where someone doesn’t have a registration card, or ID, and so they still need to be verified for their vote to count. Those are the last things counted on Tuesday night.

“I think every one of us is worn out,” Kennedy said.

   —————

Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jjacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “sound off” to this article? E-mail: Soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com