Polling place distance may cost votes from small towns

By: Victoria Maranan Email
By: Victoria Maranan Email

GRAYSON CO., TX-Just days before runoff elections, two Grayson County mayors are concerned their citizens may not be able to vote. Both Bells and Tom Bean mayors tell us because of redistricting, their assigned polling places have been moved up to 10 miles out of town. They said it may keep some from casting their ballot, especially elderly residents.
Tom Bean Mayor, Sherry Howard said citizens have always cast their vote in town in the past. But two weeks ago, she found out their polling place is located in Sherman.

"I was surprised that we were not able to go to Whitewright. It's very much closer, it's only 5 miles down the road and a lot of people don't know where the United Way building is in Sherman," she said.

Bells Mayor, Gary Martin said he was also surprised to find out they will be voting in Whitewright instead of in Bells City hall.

"It's an inconvenience. But I know that when they do this, probably because they're not expecting as big a turnout as it is for the general elections. It could be that they're trying, like everybody, to cut back on costs because it does cost to put on an election," he said.

Both say it will be a hassle for some of their residents...which may cost the county their vote.

"If a lot of people have to travel, they're not gonna vote. It's too much trouble for them, especially if they're older you know? A lot of them won't," said Martin.

"There's a lot of citizens in Tom Bean that because of the hard economic times and the price of gas, they're not gonna go into Sherman to vote," said Howard.

Grayson County Commissioner, Johnny Waldrip said to save money, the county cut the number of polling sites from 36 to 12.

"We didn't think it was proper to be cut but we didn't have the choice of the matter. The decision is solely with the county clerk who is the elections administrator. It does put a burden on the people, especially the older people," said Waldrip.

"We have a lot of citizens in Tom Bean that want to vote and I don't want to discourage them from voting because of this," said Howard.

"By doing what we're doing, we confuse everybody. They don't know where to go, they go to this place at this time and go to this place at another time and people will just quit coming," said Waldrip.

To avoid that problem, Martin and Howard came up with a solution.

"We got the opportunity for somebody to bring a van to haul back and forth and it's not gonna cost the county nothing, not gonna cost the city nothing. They're just some individuals interested in helping out so I said 'yeah, that'd be good. That'd be good to have,'" said Martin.

"I had a concerned citizen who also approached me and they said they would offer a free van service for the citizens of Tom Bean or anybody around Tom bean who would like to go up and vote," said Howard.

Waldrip said the number of polling places will be back to 36 for the November elections.

If you live in Bells or Tom Bean and you need a ride to vote, contact your city hall:

Bells City Hall
203 South Broadway Street
Bells, TX
(903) 965-7744

Tom Bean City Hall
201 S Britton St.
Tom Bean, TX
(903) 546-6321

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