by Kelli Barnes-
There have been some big changes to voting laws, and an uncertain primary election date because of the redistricting challenges. Tyler County Clerk Donence Gregory offers Tyler County voters some updates on the situation.
Election changes/voter registration
According to Tyler County Clerk Donece Gregory, Tyler County voters would normally be having Primary elections on March 6, "Super Tuesday." "Due to some law suits filed in federal court in San Antonio, the Primary has been moved to April 3," said Gregory. "This means the deadline to register to vote also changed. It is now March 5. We are not certain at this time whether the election will be April 3; if the parties do not agree it could delay the Primary into June of this year."
The County Clerk's office usually sends new voter registration cards in December. Due to the lawsuits over redistricting, drawing new congressional lines, the mass mailing of voter registration cards is expected to be the first week of March. "Everyone needs to be watching for a yellow card from us," said Gregory." There has also been some redistricting in Tyler County. So, when voters receive their registration card, they need to look at the voting precinct listed to see if they have been moved into another voting precinct. If voters have not received their new card by the end of March, they should call the County Clerk's office at 409-283-2281."
Must present ID to vote
Another change for voters is the passing of Senate Bill 14. Effective January 1, 2012 a voter must present a photo ID to be eligible to vote. Acceptable identification is: Driver's License issued by DPS, ID card issued by DPS, Concealed handgun license issued by DPS, Military ID, Passport or US citizenship. The exceptions to presenting a photo ID are: Voter with disabilities - this requires an exemption application to be submitted to the voter registrar; religious objection to being photographed; or because of a natural disaster occurring not earlier than 45 days before the ballot is cast.
"If the voter does not have ID they can vote a "provisional" ballot," said Gregory. "However, they must present the photo ID to the County Clerk's office, unless exempted, within 6 days for their ballot to be counted."
Polling Place updates
Voters, Democrats and Republicans may vote at the following locations (These are Voting Precincts): Pct. 1 Nutrition Center, Pct. 2 Masonic Lodge, Pct. 3 Hillister Baptist Church, Pct. 4 Bethel Baptist Church, Pct. 6 Wildwood, Pct. 7 Chester Lions Hall, Pct. 8 Bethany Baptist Church, Pct. 9 Ebenezer Church Fel lowship Hall, Pct. 10 Colmesneil Community Center, Pct. 11 Rockland Baptist Church, Pct. 14 Spurger ISD Ag Building, Pct. 15 Fred Elementary School, Pct. 16 Warren High School, Pct 18 Woodville Fire Station.
Precinct 5 (A-1 Wrecker), 13 (Fairview Baptist) and 17 (Woodville Lions Den) are the voting place for Democrats. Republicans in the voting precincts will vote at the Tyler County Chamber of Commerce. According to Republican Chairman Mike Paddy, they are still working on getting someone to man the stations at these locations and, if successful, the polling places for these will be the same as for Democrats.
All early voting will be open prior to the election at the Tyler County Tax office located on Hwy. 190 West in Woodville, across from Tyler County Hospital.
A federal court order issued February 2, states that parties in the redistricting proceeding have been given until 6 p.m. on February 10, 2012 to submit briefs and written advisories, with oral argument set for 8 a.m. on February 15, 2012. The court order further states that it is not announcing a primary election schedule at this time. "Things are so up the air this year, we are really watching everything closely," said Gregory. "If the elections are pushed back to June, they will most likely open up the ability for people to file for office again. It could get more complicated."
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