Where’s my precinct?

Apparently, now not even the county clerk knows. Or at least that’s certainly the impression when misinformation is mailed to voters from that office just before the election. First my precinct was consolidated with another, very quietly. Then the implementation date of the consolidation was advanced. Then the precinct polling place was moved from a walkable location, one on several bus routes, to a venue enjoying none of those advantages. Many voters still knew nothing of the change until they went to the location of decades to vote and found it had vanished. Those who ventured on to the new, difficult-to-find location were greeted by confusion and long waits. Next election, the polling place for the consolidated precinct was moved to yet another location, but at least this was again on the bus routes and fairly central for both of the older precincts. Yesterday, we received a card saying that we were in yet another precinct, one where voting will take place miles away, at an entirely different location. The card is completely in error, but many hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of voters may not realize it until election day. What will happen then? Those calling the office of the county clerk are told that perhaps those who report that they’ve received the wrong information will receive a mailing containing a correction but there are no promises to resend the information to everyone affected. Our precinct chair states that the number to call at the Travis County clerk’s office is 854-4996. When I called this number today (and there are people answering the telephone today), I received the distinct impression that this problem may affect more than one precinct. There was no word on what steps may be taken to correct the misinformation. Good luck! I want my old precinct back, at the old location. This is the sort of situation that really discourages voters from exercising the franchise. It’s best to check and recheck your polling location and review the City’s election site and Travis County’s election site. This is why I vote early, just to be safe. Indignation has not subsided since January 6, 2006. The actual election day is a week from today. As always, the League of Women Voters non-partisan guide is especially helpful as an aid in the elections for the AISD and ACC boards.

Update: According to the local daily today (7 May; page B2), the error affects six geograpically scattered precincts, representing over 10,000 households containing registered voters, and those cards direct voters in at least two precincts to appear at a church on Ben White. How many will disregard the second, corrected mailing and try to vote at the wrong location? It’s reported that “close to 60,000 households in 20 precincts received postcards with correct information.” What’s that error rate?

1 Comment so far

  1. M Sinclair Stevens (unregistered) on May 7th, 2006 @ 6:13 pm

    You were the first person I thought of when I received this postcard because you’ve blogged about it before. And yes I resent extremely that I can no longer walk to my usual polling place at Becker Elementary School. Thanks for pointing this error out…I was just annoyed at the inconvenience, but now I’m also worried that the information is wrong.

    I also worry about the newly disenfranchised…the old and the poor who might not be as lucky as I am to be able to hop in the car and drive around looking for a polling place. This arrangement really seems to target a specific type of voter.

    With the current focus on gas prices and the desire to make Austin a more pedestrian-friendly city, you’d think we’d be making it easier for people to walk to their polling places, not more difficult.

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