Header Graphic for Sarges.com Go to Home Page of Your Historical News Source LeftNavBar_Background_Color_Bar Visit News Columns written by Bill Sargent Check out Sarge's FaceBook page Visit Sarge's Twitter Page Send a message to Sarge via a Webform Visit Sarge's 2018 campaign Website Visit the Department of Justice - FBI Archived pages Visit the archived National Security Web pages Visit the archived Foreign Policy Pages Visit the archived immigration reform pages Visit the archived pages about the Economy Visit the archived 2nd Amendment web pages Visit archived political stories Authorization to copy items from this website You are here > Home > News Columns > Should Texas keep countywide voting for Election Day?


The Executive Branch Must Act Within Its Authority

Removal for High Crimes and Misdemeanors
Should Texas Keep
Countywide Voting on
Election Day?
Increasing the Debt Ceiling; House acts, Dem. Senate and White House refuse to negotiate

Published in The Post Newspaper
April 16, 2023

Having testified in Austin for many years regarding election legislation, I’m perplexed about proposed legislation abolishing countywide voting. In 2011, Galveston County welcomed countywide voting which allows any voter in the county to vote at any polling location on Election Day. Many of us worked hard to make this happen.
Under this kind of voting a person comes to the polls and is checked in.  When they sign in, that individual’s information is instantaneously transmitted to all the other polling locations in the county, thereby precluding a person from voting twice.  Only the sign in information is being transmitted.  In order to safeguard a person’s vote, the actual voting systems (i.e., the controller that provides the voting machine access number, the voting machine itself, and the scanner that records the person’s vote) are “air gapped” from the sign in process.  None of the voting equipment is connected to the internet, nor does it have the capability to do so. 
When Senator Bob Hall (R-Hunt County) laid out SB 990 in the State Affairs Committee he claimed there are vulnerabilities and chain of custody problems with countywide voting.  Having run the election process in Galveston County, my personal observation is that we never experienced any of these issues.  What the proponents of SB 990 want is to return to “precinct specific” voting on Election Day.  At the hearing, I asked “IF” there are such vulnerabilities – which I don’t believe exist – are the proponents willing to take their argument to its ultimate conclusion?  Since countywide voting is the same as what we do for Early Voting, are they also in favor of making Early Voting “precinct specific?”  After all, if there are alleged vulnerabilities with countywide voting wouldn’t the same issues exist for Early Voting as well?   Of course, they don’t want to do this and neither do I!
Over 90 of the 254 counties in Texas are currently using countywide voting on Election Day.  Admittedly there are some issues, but these are generally restricted to counties with large populations where there is so much sign in data being transmitted in high turnout elections that the servers have a hard time keeping up with all the data transfers; opening up the possibility that an unscrupulous voter could vote at more than one location before their sign in data has been received at another nearby polling location.  I suggested a fix; restrict countywide voting to small and medium-size counties, which would include Galveston County.  Even with the lack of evidence, the committee failed to take my advice and that of many other witnesses, voting 8-2 to report SB 990 out of committee.  At this writing, it’s not yet been considered on the Senate floor and its companion bill in the House has yet to have a hearing.
This bill shouldn’t be enacted.   If it is, voters will be required on Election Day to vote within their home precinct (i.e., a person working at UTMB wouldn’t be able to vote at the Rebecca Sealy voting location during lunch but, instead, would need to rush home to League City to vote before 7 p.m. on Election Night).  Additionally, this bill would increase the cost of elections; requiring the purchase of millions of dollars of additional voting equipment, the addition of more polling places, and the cost of hiring and training new poll workers.   In my view all of this is uncalled for and it accomplishes nothing. As most of you know I’m all about easy access for voting, while ensuring election integrity.  This proposed legislation accomplishes neither.

About the Author
Bill Sargent, columnist


Bill Sargent has authored or coauthored over 250 guest columns since 2014 and continues to do so. He lives in Galveston, where he has been involved in the election process since 2008, serving as an election clerk, a presiding judge of various pollling places and central count, and havilng served as the Election Administrator of the Galveston County Republican Party, and Chief Deputy Clerk for Elections for the Galveston County Clerk.