Hope Andrade

BELTON — With the spring redistricting map fiasco, a brutal primary election and the recent controversy over dead voter registration, it’s been a challenging year for election administrators in Texas.

Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade — the chief election officer for the state — visited Bell County on Friday to ensure voting procedures were in order and that November’s general election would go off without a hitch.

Approximately 161,000 voters have registered for the 2012 general election in Bell County, said Bell County Clerk Shelly Coston, the appointed election administrator for the county.

Early voting will be at six locations in Bell County between Oct. 22 and Nov. 2. Election Day is Nov. 6.

Coston, who has conducted many elections, said she felt sorry for first-year administrators taking on the task in 2012.

“If you can make it through this year, you will be good,” she said. “It has been nonstop this year.”

In a regular voting year, it takes between 75 and 90 days for her staff to prepare for an election, Coston said.

“Our window of opportunity was narrowed drastically,” she said. “We had to cram a lot of activity into a short period of time.”

Andrade offered her new approach to getting out the vote through social media with Twitter, Facebook, a website — votetexas.gov — and a smartphone app, which provide all of the information for registering, voting and even candidate profiles.

“It started with young people but now we are all using it,” Andrade said. “It took me a while but now I am into it.”

On Friday, approximately 13½ million voters had registered in Texas, Andrade said, the same number that voted in 2008.

“We hope to continue to grow that number,” Andrade said.

On her whirlwind tour, Andrade visited about two-thirds of Texas’ 254 counties, encouraging people to vote and to vote early.

Statewide, 65 percent of voters voted early in 2008, Andrade said.

No voter identification will be required, despite the news about the controversial Texas Voter ID Law, she said.

“We will tell you when to vote, where to vote and how to vote,” Andrade said. “The only thing we won’t tell you is who to vote for.”

Contact Brandon Janes at bjanes@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7552

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