GATESVILLE — The primary election has come and gone and congratulations are in order.
Sure, the candidates who won their races deserve a pat on the back, but the real winners on election night were the folks who worked to ensure that Coryell County voters had a hassle-free experience at the ballot box.
“Smooth as glass,” is how County Tax Assessor/Collector Justin Carothers described the first primary using the new countywide voting system.
Carothers and his staff were aided by about 40 volunteers from both major political parties who manned the 10 polling places Tuesday. The team also worked the polls during early voting, where about half of the votes were cast.
Under the new countywide voting system, any qualified Coryell voter can cast a ballot at any of the 10 voting places regardless of their home precinct.
All voting is done by machine with no option for paper ballots.
“Reporting was quick because we don’t have a lot of paper ballots to count,” Carothers said, “and we have six fewer polling places.”
The Coryell votes were in and counted in less than 80 minutes after the polls closed at 7 p.m.
Those of us monitoring the Texas Secretary of State website for election returns saw that Coryell County votes were posted first and fastest in the multicounty contests such as Texas House District 59.
The polling place with the most activity Tuesday was the Gatesville Annex with 790 voters, about 36 percent of the day’s total. Cove City Hall was a distant second with 342 voters or about 16 percent.
The Republican ballot drew 4,048 voters — 12 percent of the eligible electorate — while just more than 1 percent of registered voters — 395 — voted the Democratic ballot, which had no contested races at the county level.
Carothers said he believes he and his team — as well as county voters — are well-prepared to use the system in the May 27 runoff election and the November general election. The big test, he said, will be the next presidential election in 2016.
“We will be ready,” he said. “Everyone will be used to it by then.”