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New procedures simplify Primary Voting

County Clerk Diane Trautman (left) and Michael B. Winn, Director of Elections explaining the new procedure of how voter’s will be able to privately declare their political party’s affiliation. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

County Clerk Trautman offers Joint Primary Dem. or Rep. Registration

By Allan Jamail

Houston, TX. – Tuesday, June 11, 2019 at the Harris County Clerk’s office, a new speedier and private process was presented by County Clerk Diane Trautman, Administrator of Elections Michael Winn, and Director of Communications Teneshia Hudspeth. Trautman said after numerous Primary Elections, she has heard of voters not voting because they felt uncomfortable stating their party’s affiliation out loud to where others could hear. She said, “This new process is to remove any fear from one declaring their party affiliation out loud; the voter will have complete anonymity. This is not a partisan issue to help either party separately; this is to make all voters of both parties feel more comfortable.”

Michael Winn, Administrator of Elections, said, “Combining the amount of staff from both parties to run just one polling location allows for fewer clerks needed. This also reduces the amount of party specific staff needed at the locations but at the same time will also increase the number of locations to which staff can be assigned.”

The use of Election Day Vote Centers (EDVC), another new program of Trautman’s, allows voters to vote anywhere regardless of their home precinct, which will save them time by not having to stand in lines. They can go vote at any location that doesn’t have a long line. The EDVC will also remove the problem of a voter not getting to vote because of going to the wrong location.

A mock demonstration by Harris County Clerk employee Margaret Aguilar (left) posing as a voter using a touchscreen tablet privately discloses her political party affiliation to both Democrat C. Patrick McIlvain (right) and Republican Kathryn Gray both election clerks in order to vote in a Primary Election. (Photo by Allan Jamail)

The process should reduce the amount of Provisional Ballots cast. One of the leading causes of a Provisional Ballot is because voters went to the wrong location due to their registered precinct or party selection. Allowing all voters to vote anywhere they choose and make their own party selection will overall reduce the number of provisionals needed.

Trautman said, “Having a Joint Primary Election will reduce voter confusion and make the entire process less stressful for the voters and allow them to perform the most important right they possess: the right to VOTE.”

According to Teneshia Hudspeth, Director of Communications, the county already has the necessary equipment to implement this process and said it is estimated to save tax dollars of about $275,000.

The Joint Election process has been reviewed by both the Democratic and Republican Party Chairs; it will only take effect upon the approval of both chairs. The deadline for approval is July 15, 2019.