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Bexar County elections chief defends number of polling sites prepared for midterm election

Jacque Callanen.jpg
Brian Kirkpatrick
/
Texas Public Radio
Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen spoke to reporters during a news conference on Oct. 5 at Collins Garden Public Library.

Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen said Wednesday there will not be 388 election day sites like those sought in a lawsuit filed by the Texas Civil Rights Project.

Callanen explained that there is a lot of work that goes into opening an election day site -- buildings must be secured, staffing hired, and equipment set up. Polling sites must also meet federal disability access requirements. The Nov. 8 election day is little more than a month away.

She maintained the 267 polling sites currently planned are more than enough because voters can vote at any of them, and many did in the last major election.

"We have about 40 to 45 percent of our voters on election day voting out of their voting precinct," she said. "They vote at the closest voting center, whether it's where they work [or] whether they're going to a soccer game."

Callanen also said she's not sure she can get the 302 voting sites some county commissioners have been pushing for. She has not been able to convince them the "vote anywhere" sites work just as well as dozens of additional sites would.

Commissioners Tommy Calvert, Rebeca Clay-Flores, and Justin Rodriguez have been critical of Callanen for not having more polling locations. Those commissioners represent often underserved areas of East, South, and West Bexar County.

Callanen called a news conference on Tuesday to remind voters Oct. 11 is the last day to register for the Nov. 8 election.

League of Women Voters volunteers.jpg
Brian Kirkpatrick
/
Texas Public Radio
San Antonio League of Women Voters volunteers, Mary Dierolf to the left, and Alene Lindley were helping voters register to vote on Oct. 5 at the Collins Gardens Public Library

She explained more than 1.2 million local voters are registered to vote. Early voting is set to begin on Oct. 24.

Callanen urged voters to do their research in advance to reduce wait times, especially since the straight ticket voting option is not an option in this election.

The San Antonio League of Women Voters is helping to register voters across the city. Its free voter's guide will be available to the public in local libraries this week.

TPR asked Callanen if her office had been subjected to any additional threats as voter emotions run high over issues that include falsehoods about stolen elections, abortion, gun control, and immigration. She declined to answer the question.

There will be additional security at the election's office as voting gets underway. Election night observers will be accommodated in a room where they can peer through a window into the counting room.

Callanen has also said they will also be rotated in and out of the room to get a closer look.

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Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at brian@tpr.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian