Shawn Snyder

Shawn Snyder, Bell County elections administrator, talks to the Trade Secrets group about the voting process March 20 in Harker Heights.

They are usually small in numbers, but a group of Harker Heights seniors meet monthly for Trade Secrets, a program designed to stir up conversation, create an open forum for questions and provide an opportunity to hear experts share their knowledge about various topics.

What they lack in numbers they more than make up for in knowledge gained.

Joyce Mayer begins the one-hour class by writing the participants’ thoughts on a dry erase board.

Then it’s the expert’s turn.

The guest speaker at the March 20 meeting was Shawn Snyder, Bell County elections administrator.

Snyder said there are two separate systems that operate the election process in Texas counties. One is the tax assessor-collector, who runs voter registration and makes sure all residents get their voter registration cards. The other is the county clerk, who makes sure the ballots are built, the voting machines are running and that locations are identified where people can cast their votes.

A change consolidated the two operations under one roof and both are the responsibility of the Bell County elections administrator.

“A majority of people are under the assumption that they must present their voter registration card at a polling place,” Snyder said. “That is not true.”

All that’s required is a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, a passport, Texas ID card, naturalization or citizenship certification, military ID card, a concealed handgun license or a Texas Election Identification Certificate.

There are six early voting sites in Bell County, including two in Killeen, one in Harker Heights, one in Belton, one in Temple and one in Salado.

The upcoming May 10 election will be consolidated, which means there will be four early voting sites instead of six. On Election Day, only 20 of the 46 voting sites will be open, Snyder said.

“The reason is that primary elections have a lower turnout and we’re trying to save taxpayer money,” he said. “The county will save thousands of dollars.”

In 2013, there was a 7 percent voter turnout in Bell County for the constitutional election, which changed laws for every Texan. In the last primary, turnout was 10.3 percent.

“I’m expecting about 7,000 for the primary runoff,” he said.

At next month’s meeting, Cyd West, a mortgage finance adviser, will speak about the pros and cons of reverse mortgages.

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