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Bexar County commissioners hear of security concerns for polling sites and workers this election year

Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen file photo
Brian Kirkpatrick
Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen file photo

Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen told county commissioners that she will likely come before them later this presidential election year to ask for increased security for election-related sites and election workers.

"We will be coming back to you ... so we can have some additional protection. And we're going to have additional classes for our election officials as they're out in the field," she said due to "high-tension elections."

Callanen spoke to commissioners during their regular meeting at the county courthouse on Tuesday as they approved her plans for early voting in the joint March 5 primary.

Callanen told TPR in 2020 that her office and election workers had been subjected to threats after some Republicans made bogus calls that year that the national presidential election had been stolen.

Her comments before commissioners suggested that she suspected more of the same trouble this year. There were also complaints of overzealous poll watchers by local election workers in 2020.

State law allows for election night observers, but they are only allowed to observe. Some were acting as if they were some sort of poll site supervisors, trying to give instructions to election workers, according to complaints from that year.

Callanen told commissioners there will be 42 early voting sites for the primary and runoffs, if required, in this presidential election year. That's more than the 37 early voting sites in the last presidential election year of 2020.

The early voting period this year runs from Feb. 20 to March 1. Early voting locations include libraries, schools, some community and civic centers, and some city halls. Early voters can vote any of the locations.

In 2020, a pandemic year, nearly 255,000 votes were cast in the March 3 joint primary election. Most were not cast on election day itself, but rather by 122,000 voting early and another nearly 19,000 cast by absentee ballot.

On Nov. 3 of that year, a total of nearly 774,000 votes were cast, but only 84,000 on election day itself. Nearly 597,000 were cast during early voting and nearly 93,000 by absentee voters.

Democrat Joe Biden defeated Republican Donald Trump in Bexar County in 2020 with more than 448,000 votes to more than 308,000 or by a 58% percent to 40% ratio. The heated presidential race saw more than 65% of the county's more than 1.1 million register voters cast ballots, according to records from the county election's office.

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