Texas county sued by progressive groups over lack of polling sites

Two progressive groups sued a Texas county late Tuesday, accusing local officials of not offering enough polling locations during the November election.

In a lawsuit filed against the Bexar County Elections Department in state court, the nonprofit organizations — MOVE Texas Civic Fund and the Texas Organizing Project — accused the county of closing several polling locations since 2012, arguing it could create long lines at polling stations next month.

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“These closures are not merely ill-advised for the safety and convenience of all voters, but they will also negatively impact voters of color and Spanish-language voters,” the lawsuit says.

Bexar County plans to have 284 polling sites on Nov. 3, but the plaintiffs asked a judge to order the county to open at least 311 sites on Election Day — an increase of 27. Officials operated more than 300 in every general election dating back to 2012, according to the suit.

In a letter responding to the concerns that was included in the filing, Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen maintained the county was not in violation of the law and was providing more than the minimum number of polling locations required.

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“We currently have 284 vote centers, and therefore we are providing more than the minimum required number of polling locations for this election,” she wrote in her letter to Joaquin Gonzalez, an attorney for the Texas Civil Rights Project.

During the county’s daily coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff discussed the matter. He estimated that about 35% of people vote on Election Day, compared with 65% of individuals who will cast their ballot via mail or take advantage of early voting locations.

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“I don’t know what’ll happen. You never know what a court does, but I think we’ve got plenty of polling sites,” Wolff said.

Early voting in Texas lasts for two weeks, beginning Oct. 13 and ending Oct. 30.

Separately, the lawsuit claimed that Bexar County did not accept additional deputy voter registrars. According to the lawsuit, the Bexar County Elections Department last month posted a sign in its office saying it would not appoint any registrars — who help eligible Texans register to vote — for the remainder of the year.

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