Elections

Voting rights group says Galveston County not providing enough polling locations for election day, breaking state law

According to the Texas Civil Rights Project, Galveston County will only open 28 polling locations on election day instead of the 41 mandated by law.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT
A voter on an Election Day at a polling location in Texas.

An Austin-based group that monitors election-related civil rights violations says election officials in Galveston County are breaking the law by not providing enough polling locations for the November 8th election.

According to the Texas Civil Rights Project, Galveston County will only open 28 polling locations on election day instead of the 41 mandated by state law. The number of polling locations is determined by a county's population. Texas Secretary of State records show Galveston County had just over 228,000 registered voters in 2020.

The group is concerned fewer polling locations could suppress voting in Galveston County, specifically among minority voters, who in some cases would have to travel farther to cast ballots.

"The further voters have to travel, the less likely they are to actually turn out to vote," Texas Civil Rights Project attorney Joaquin Gonzalez said. "An extra half mile can reduce the likelihood of voting by 5-10%."

The organization sent a letter to Galveston County officials this week asking why the number of polling locations has been reduced, but hasn't heard back. And it turns out this isn't the first time there have been questions about polling locations in Galveston County.

"In looking at the issue, we realized that they had also previously had a problem in 2018," Gonzalez said. "I think if nothing is done, we would look at all the options to make sure that at the very least, in future election cycles, they follow the law."

Earlier this year, TCRP filed a lawsuit against Galveston County over County Commissioner Court redistricting maps from 2021. They allege the new maps discriminated against the county's growing minority population and pointed to the mostly minority precinct of Commissioner Stephen Holmes, the only Black member of Commissioners Court. TCRP says his precinct was split unfairly with the new maps.

That litigation is still pending.

Houston Public Media reached out to the Galveston County Elections Office several times for comment, but didn't hear back.

Early voting ends Friday, November 4th.

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Jack Williams

Executive Producer for Daily News

Jack is back in Houston after some time away working in public radio and television in Lincoln, Nebraska. Before leaving for the Midwest, he worked in various roles at Houston Public Media from 2000-2016, including reporting, hosting and anchoring. Jack has also worked in commercial news radio in Houston, Austin...

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