81ºF

Access to the ballot box: County commissioner talks voting safety measures

Vote by mail, early voting, mega voting centers

SAN ANTONIO – In the latest KSAT Q&A, County commissioner Justin Rodriguez talked about the precautions being taken to ensure the safety of voters as the threat of COVID-19 continues to loom into election season.

Vote by mail

Texas is one of just six states that has not opened up mail-in voting for all voters amid the pandemic. To be eligible to vote by mail in Texas, voters must be 65 years or older. You might also qualify if you are disabled, or in jail but still eligible to vote. Anyone seeking to vote by mail has to apply. To help make the application process easier, Rodriguez says Bexar County is automatically sending the vote-by-mail application to all residents over 65.

“They don’t have to do anything on their end to request it,” he said. The county is also paying for the postage to send the application to the Elections office.

“Then we’ll send them the ballot and we’re paying for the postage for them to send their actual ballot back in. So I thought that was an important step in making sure, in this environment, that those that are in that age group, some say vulnerable age group, that they don’t have to come to the polls in person,” Rodriguez explained.

Voters over 65 should expect those applications in the mail within the next few weeks.

A national concern over mail-in-ballots is whether they will be received in time to be counted. Rodriguez said one way to ensure your ballot is received is to hand deliver it to the Elections office at 1103 South Frio by election day.

Early voting

Rodriguez said this week the county is looking to finalize plans for additional early voting cites.

“An impediment to the voting shouldn’t be fear of contracting this deadly virus. Let’s give folks as much opportunity, as many sites as we can and as long hours as long as we can as well,” he said.

Mega voting centers

Come election day, for the first time ever, the AT&T Center will be used as a polling place. Rodriguez said mega voting centers like this can make for a safer and more efficient process.

“So the idea behind the mega centers was ‘how do we maximize space?’ We could put more voting machines in there. But I think the key is we can utilize this space in that if we’ve got long lines, we can social distance and space people out in that six feet, that’s minimum required,” he said.

The county hopes to create at least four mega votings centers across the city to accommodate each side of town.

Catch these KSAT Q&As live at 6:30 p.m. and on the Nightbeat.

RELATED:


About the Author: