Residents of Liberty County have reported receiving misleading and confusing mail-in ballot requests and Elections Administrator Klint Bush wants voters to know these are not coming from the Liberty County Elections Office.
“Some are valid and some aren’t. It’s concerning. I don’t want people asking for one party’s ballot when they really wanted the other party’s ballot. Voters need to take the time to really look at what they are getting in the mail if they plan to use a mail-in ballot,” Bush said.
The best way to request a mail-in ballot is directly from the Elections Office, Bush said. Requests for ballots by mail must be received by Feb. 21, so time is running out. The mail-in ballots must be marked with the voter’s preferences and then returned to the Elections Office by Tuesday, March 3, or they will not be counted.
The last day to register to vote is Monday, Feb. 3. To be eligible to vote in Texas, a person must be a United States citizen, must be a resident of the county in which they submit an application to vote, must be at least 17 years and 10 months old, and 18 years old on Election Day, cannot be a convicted felon (unless they have completed their sentence, probation or parole), and have not been declared mentally incompetent by a court.
Early voting begins on Tuesday, Feb. 18, and ends on Friday, Feb. 28. The early voting locations in Liberty County are the same four locations as usual: Cleveland Civic Center, Dayton Community Center, Jack Hartel Building and Hardin City Hall.
Bush said his office is working to select the Election Day polling locations and the list of those locations should be ready in a few days.
With fears of election tampering by Russians on many Americans’ minds, Bush said Liberty County residents can rest easy knowing that local elections are tamper-proof.
“We have brand new election equipment that was used in the last election in November. These devices do not touch the Internet at all. There is a chain of custody for them, so residents need not worry that Russians are attacking our election,” he said.
According to Bush, the equipment is stored in a vault in the Liberty County Courthouse. From there and under close scrutiny, they are programmed with election data prior to an election. The day before an election, they are sent out to their respective polling locations and kept under lock and key until the election begins. Before the first vote is cast, a report is run to validate that no votes have been collected on the machines.
“At the end of Election Day, we run another report that should have the exact amount of votes cast as what our counter says,” he said. “We take the integrity of our elections very seriously.”
Bush’s enthusiasm for his new job comes after many years of working in the trenches of local elections. He first became involved in local politics and elections at the age of 15.
“The first location where I was sent to help with elections was in Devers. We were in a location next to the fire department that had a dirt floor. I had two voters all day long,” he recalled. “Now, after all these years, I am the trustee of 43,000 registered voters.”
His goal in the coming year is to address voter apathy, which has resulted in dismal voting numbers not just locally but nationwide.
“Turnout in some of our elections is pathetic. I am trying to change that. I hope that in this coming primary election that we see 25,000 people vote, which would be a big jump from the 18,000 or so we normally see in these elections,” he said.
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