GATESVILLE — The Coryell County Commissioners’ Court on Monday gave the county’s top election official a green light to apply for a countywide-voting plan that would let voters cast ballots at any of 11 voting centers on election day.

Tax Assessor/Collector Justin Carothers will apply to the Texas secretary of state and, if approved, will use the countywide system in November.

After conducting a Feb. 4 focus group and two public hearings Feb. 12, Carothers cleared the final hurdle in the application process with the commissioners’ approval.

Currently, the countywide plan only applies to general elections, but state Rep. J.D. Sheffield, R-Gatesville, introduced a bill in the Legislature to include party primaries.

The county conducted a joint primary election, but that process could hit a snag next year due to a clear partisan split over the countywide system.

“We could not have a joint primary if one party did not agree,” Carothers said.

Coryell Republicans enthusiastically support the plan, while the executive committee of the county Democratic Party opposes the plan because it eliminates the paper ballot except for mail-in voting.

Although the plan was touted as saving money, Carothers said the county’s 70 voting machines could not handle a presidential election and more machines would have to be purchased to meet voter needs.

A crowd of about 30 people turned out for Monday’s meeting, most offering replays of testimony heard at earlier hearings.

“I do not trust voting machines,” said Joy Bates, a longtime Democratic Party activist. “My concern is being able to check and see if the vote is authentic. I think we are headed down a dangerous road.”

Peggy Thompson, co-chair of the county Republican Party, touted the countywide system as “a valuable change for our voters.”

Contact Tim Orwig at

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