SAN ANTONIO – Precinct 2 Bexar County Commissioner Justin Rodriguez is proposing a plan that would make voting in the upcoming election possibly safer.
The plan includes early voting sites open 24/7 and mega voting locations.
“We are looking at ways where we know we are going to have a huge turnout for voting,” Rodriguez said. “We need to make (voting) accessible and convenient for people. That was my priority before COVID-19 hit, but obviously, now in this pandemic, we have issues with social distancing and safety of not only our workers but our voters as well.”
Rodriguez said he wants to explore using large locations for voting to ensure proper social distancing.
“We would make sure to utilize proper spacing, such as in the AT&T Center,” he said.
Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said the Alzafar Shrine is also an option.
“I conducted a walk-through at the arena, examining whether adding access to additional drive-through curbside voting will be a viable option,” she said
Callanen said because so many voting locations include schools, public libraries and other community locations, it remains to be seen which of them will be open or closed, because of the coronavirus.
“As we saw in the July 14th primary runoff, several locations had to be closed at the last minute due to some of our dedicated workers making the valid decision not to serve as voting judges. So, as you might imagine, there have to be several contingency plans in place to accommodate the flux of the election run-up period,” she said.
Rodriguez said the county would also explore a plan in place to make it easier for every registered voter 65 years of age or older to be able to vote by mail.
He also mentioned how the county would utilize the $3 million it set aside for the elections from the Federal Cares Act.
“We may need some additional machines,” Rodriguez said. “We know the new voting machines cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 each depending on the equipment. With longer hours and larger sites, we would also need to recruit more election workers that will be able to work at $15 an hour.”
Rodriguez plans to discuss his proposal at the next commissioners meeting on Aug. 18.
“Our goal is, and I speak for my colleagues as well, is to make sure these elections are safe, and folks have access and they are convenient and people feel confident about going to the polls or mailing in their ballots,” he said.