Texas Must End Countywide Polling

There is a constant tug of war between convenience and security in elections. Our fast-paced instant gratification society is eroding the sanctity of our election process. Our nation was founded on the ability to choose who represents you in government and it is essential that your choice, your vote is protected.  

Texas has 254 very different counties and many of them have not yet adopted countywide polling, and a few have managed to conduct countywide polling in a positive way. Overall, however, countywide polling has produced unintended consequences. Texas should move away from countywide polling and toward precinct-based polling for both Election Day and early voting. 


Precinct-based polling means, in its purest form, that voters can cast their ballot at only one location inside their voting precinct. Each voting precinct can vary in geographical size, but cannot contain more than 5,000 registered voters. 

Precincts can be consolidated or combined under certain circumstances, but typically in small numbers. Single precincts or combined neighboring precincts are more likely to have the same races and candidates on their ballots, decreasing the chance of voters receiving the wrong ballot style.  This also means that a particular precinct’s ballots are kept together, adding to the security and accuracy of precinct returns, chain of custody, and storage.


The power of communication has never been greater. We can easily speak to people around the world with the internet and our cell phones, yet we don’t know the people next door. We don’t get together, let alone vote together. 

Election judges and clerks should be people who live in the district and over the years learn the faces and names of the people coming in to vote. Ideally these election workers are Precinct Chairs or block captains who are the political party representatives closest to their constituents. 

Precinct chairs are elected or appointed to get to know the voters in their neighborhoods, make an effort to register voters new to the area and notify the voter registrar of voters who have moved away or passed away. These community volunteers can be a check on the system as well as a way to increase voter turnout.  


Countywide polling makes it more difficult for voters to connect with their local representatives. Candidates or their representatives meeting and greeting voters outside the polling locations can be a great advantage to voters who may still be on the fence between candidates. Local candidates often don’t have the resources to cover every polling location in the county with signs and volunteers. In precinct-based polling they would only have to cover the polling locations inside their districts.

Also, candidate signs and volunteers for multiple districts at one location can lead to voter confusion. Voters may think they have been given the wrong ballot because the names on the signs outside aren’t the same as the ones on their ballots. 


In countywide polling, ballots go into boxes or bags with other ballots from their polling location. However, recounts must be conducted by precinct. This means that for a small district covering only a few precincts, all of the ballot boxes or bags for the entire county must be opened and sorted. 

In counties like Tarrant and Dallas this is a daunting task, adding hours and expenses to the recount. A recount for a precinct chair that was decided by one vote could mean opening hundreds of boxes or bags instead of just one. That leads to a chain of custody nightmare.

Overall, the advantages of precinct-based polling outweigh the convenience of countywide polling. A little extra planning ahead of time on the part of the voter is a small price to pay for secure elections.