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Bexar County Prepares For Election Season Under New Texas Election Laws

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Among the many new voting restrictions and penalties now in place in Texas, Bexar County Election Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen was particularly frustrated with a Tuesday as county officials called the March 1 primary. .

Election offices can send a request for a postal vote to someone only if requested.

If a resident calls the office to request an application, that person cannot also request one for her husband, for example, Callanen explained at a meeting of the Bexar County Commissioners Court. “We have to hear it from him. … It’s just ridiculous.

Another new rule related to the app requires voters to provide, both on their request to vote by mail and on the ballot, their driver’s license number or social security number – and they must choose the same number for both.

Callanen said 42 of 80 requests for mail-in ballots Election service received on Monday were rejected because they violated one of the new rules.

It is now illegal for public officials to promote postal voting, although political parties are still allowed to send candidates.

The deadline to register to vote is January 31, while the deadline for request a postal ballot is February 18.

Early voting begins Feb. 14 in the primary of the midterm elections, which will also determine the party’s candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and other statewide offices as well as county races. If no lead candidate gets a majority of the votes in a race, they will head to a second round of the May 24 election.

Callanen told Bexar County commissioners she may need additional funds for on-call election officials in the event existing staff are exposed or infected with the coronavirus. The latest variant of the virus, the omicron, has caused a spike in cases.

Commissioners Tommy Calvert (Pct. 4) and Justin Rodriguez (Pct. 2) said they would work to find him that funding.

“We had sites closed on the morning of [voting] and that… we cannot accept, ”Calvert said. “It’s almost like being in a play, you have to have someone to support you and be ready to act.”

The electoral service is also working on the selection of voting sites, some of which have become COVID-19 testing sites.

“We are debating whether we should ask voters to come … where there is potential [positive test results]”said Callanen.

Security upgrades at the Election Department’s office at 1103 S. Frio St. have also been underway, though incomplete, as of this week, she noted.

Last summer, a gunman involved in a shooting at a nearby hotel ran into the office and jumped over the office counter. The incident led to an office security assessment by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.

Most of the major security upgrades have been completed, said Dan Curry, director of the county’s facilities management department.

Details are confidential for security reasons, Curry told the San Antonio Report, but the work included installing additional partitions, security cameras, exterior lighting and panic buttons.

Landscaping crews will soon cut back overgrown foliage on the exterior of the building to reduce potential hiding places, Curry said.

A formal progress report on improvements to Election Office security will be provided to the court at its February 8 meeting at the request of Acting Commissioner Marialyn Barnard (Pct. 3). Curry said he expects work to be completed before early voting begins.

“[We need to] get a building safety recommendation [and] the improvements that will occur to protect and secure the elections and the integrity of the elections, especially the office, ”Barnard said.

Tuesday was Barnard’s first meeting after being sworn in last week to replace former Commissioner Trish DeBerry, who is running to become a Bexar County judge. Candidates for the unexpired term, which ends in 2024, will not appear on the March primary ballot because DeBerry announced his candidacy too close to the nomination deadline. Instead, the local Democratic and Republican parties will choose who will be on the ballot in November.