There will be an extra day added to the early voting schedule here in Grimes County for the upcoming mid-term elections. County elections administrator Rebecca Duff said at last weeks meeting of Commissioner’s Court that she received a petition, with the required 15 signatures, to extend the weekday voting. She stated that it will happen on October 28th and that both voting locations, the courthouse in Anderson and the Navasota Center, would be open at the same time.
The two centers being open became the main theme of discussion. Duff explained that past Commissioner’s voted to have both centers open when the main one is open. Even though the petition was just to open the Anderson Courthouse center.
“So, we have this branch that opens at the same time. Because the commissioners asked for this one to always be open…that whenever the main one is open, the branch one would be open as well,” Duff said.
Now extended voting on a Sunday might seem a bit weird. But, as Duff explains, there is a reason it is on a Sunday instead of a Saturday. And that is mostly due to the petition just asking for that day. But it is also because the population of Grimes is smaller.
“We are under 100,000 population. So, with that being said, we don’t have to be petitioned to be open both days. The big ones, like Harris County, they have to be open Saturday and Sunday. But, with us being under 100,000, it is either Saturday or Sunday. And this petition picked Sunday,” said Duff.
County Judge Joe Fauth however expressed concerns on budgetary side of things with regards to having two polling places open. And he said he wants to see where and when Commissioners voted to have two polling places open simultaneously. Not to argue the legitimacy of the petition, but just to see what the deal is.
“Can you show me in the court minutes where we are required to have two locations? And part f this…it is a financial issue,” Judge Fauth questioned.
The commissioner’s debate for an upwards of 35 minutes on the budgetary aspects of having two polling places open. Commissioner Barbara Walker and Duff talked about the budget for opening the second polling center and determined it would only cost about $300 to $400. After that, Commissioner Phillip Cox gave his two cents and said having the two centers open, even just for the 15 people in the petition, is essential for the county and election.
“If memory serves me, I have seen elections in Grimes County come down to less than 15 votes. The question is where do they cast those votes on Sunday? Are we going to allow them to do it at the courthouse and Navasota? Or one or the other?” Cox said. “And from a budgetary constraint standpoint, I do not necessarily know it is going to be burdensome on the county to operate two centers on a Sunday if we can anticipate even one vote. Because that is how important it is.”
After a long debate, the commissioners approved the Order of Special Election. Judge Fauth abstained, requesting previous court minutes regarding the opening of two polling places. But after the approval, it means both the Navasota Center and courthouse in Anderson will be open for early voting on Sunday, October 28th from 2-7 pm.