San Antonio voter mobilization groups sue Bexar County, saying it must expand polling locations

click to enlarge San Antonio voter mobilization groups sue Bexar County, saying it must expand polling locations
Rhyma Castillo
A suit filed Tuesday in Bexar County District Court asks a judge to force the county to expand its number of polling places before the November 3 election and make it easier to bring on new election registrars.

Voter mobilization groups Texas Organizing Project and MOVE Texas Civic Fund as well Jennifer K. Falcon, a local election registrar, allege that county officials, including Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen, have closed polling sites in advance of an election that's likely to inspire record turnout amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

They also maintain that the county is "illegally restricting the appointment process for volunteer deputy registrars," making it hard to register new voters.

"Now, when it is more important than ever to facilitate voters’ safe exercise of their fundamental right to vote by minimizing lines at each polling place, the Bexar County Elections Department has decided to close Election Day polling locations and operate fewer locations than it did in 2012, 2014, 2016, or 2018," the plaintiffs argue in the suit.

The closures will do the biggest harm to voters of color and Spanish-speaking voters, which violates the Texas Election Code, and rules for establishing polling places adopted by Bexar County Commissioners Court, the plaintiffs also maintain.

"Unfortunately, this fits a pattern of legal violations spanning years, in which Bexar County has operated hundreds of fewer polling locations than it was required to," they allege.

In an emailed statement, Callanen said her department remains focused on the election and will leave it up to the courts to make a final decision.

"Our staff continues to work seven days a week processing applications for mail-in ballots and assisting voters in the election process," she added. "Don’t forget — early voting starts October 13."

Due to the pandemic and expected turnout, Bexar County will operate four mega-voting sites including the AT&T Center in November. New voting machines will also allow people to cast a ballot at any polling site instead of just the one designated for their precinct.

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