Gladewater voters left out of early voting local polling location

Why is it, for the second time in a row, Gladewater has no polling location during Early Voting?
The short answer: It’s complicated.
For the state’s Constitutional Amendment Election last November as well as for the upcoming Primary Election March 5, White Oak’s the closest spot for Gladewater voters.
Including the Gregg County Courthouse, there are nine locations to cast ballots in the upcoming party primaries. Early voting begins Feb. 20 and runs through March 1, with the closest polling set in the new White Oak Community Center behind VeraBank, purchased by the city in late 2023.
Come Super Tuesday, there will be a score of vote centers in Gregg County including one nearby for Gladewater voters, set once again in First United Methodist Church on Quitman Avenue.
From City Hall, “I would always prefer for us to have early voting and election day in the City of Gladewater,” City Clerk Judy Van Houten said, “for Gregg County and Upshur County.”
FUMC’s been the standard location, and it’s one of the core issues of the early voting conundrum for Gregg County Elections Administrator Jennifer Briggs – she and her staff are grateful when the facility’s available as a polling spot, but as a privately-owned, multi-use building that’s not always the case.
“Once again, it kind of just comes down to the best locations we can get to satisfy the biggest needs we have,” said Briggs, charged with balancing the polling equation through a calculus of local access, personnel availability and budget constraints, all within parameters set by the state. “It’s a pick-and-choose thing. I have tried to space out and get locations open that are as balanced as I can.
Meanwhile, “Those locations during a primary are chosen by the primary chairs and agreed upon and contracted with me.”
Gregg voters can cast their ballots at any location through countywide polling, and Briggs noted the primary’s 20 Election Day spots exceed the standard 18. Likewise, nine locations is more than the usual five.
“We open a minimal number of locations when it’s a run-off or smaller election.”
Elections office personnel have to coordinate the primary with the local party chairs, finalizing an agreement that works for all sides.
Meanwhile, “There’s also formulas I have to follow… The law states you cannot open more than double the amount of vote centers than what you have open in another commissioner precinct,” Briggs lamented, and it’s a challenge: “Quite often, with the size of Precinct 3. So, I have to balance all that out.
“You’re not the only one who called and asked. I’m constantly having to field (requests). It’s quite often in the south, Commissioner 4 area. I can’t open all of those. I’d have to open everything.”
Even without that state restriction, though, Briggs notes the Gregg Elections Office simply doesn’t have the manpower to accommodate that many locations for the full length of early voting plus election day.
“Number one, I think my staff will die,” she quipped. That said, if a reliable, public building were consistently available, Briggs and her staff would have more options to accommodate more local polling: “If we get somewhere in Gladewater that is open to us, that’s owned by the city or county or something like that, that would allow us to use it anytime we need it…
In the meantime, “I do hope people like the new White Oak polling location.”
It’ll likely be the same come November and the presidential election: the same nine early voting locations plus 18 voting centers on Election Day, including Gladewater FUMC. A polling spot may be opened in Sabine if the school district there has a race on the ballot.
When transportation is an issue and Voting By Mail is an option for a voter, Briggs added, they should absolutely take advantage of the opportunity.
“If they’re over 65 or they’re disabled, they can select a mail ballot,” she said. As far as leaving some polling locations out at times, “I wish I had better answers; I just have the answer, ‘It is what it is.’”
March 5 Primary
Early Voting Locations
• Gregg County Courthouse, 101 E. Methvin St, Longview 75601
• Longview Community Center, 500 E Whaley St, Longview 75501
• Judson Community Center, 1129 FM 1844, Longview 75605
• Pine Tree Community Center, 1701 Pine Tree Rd, Longview 75604
• Greggton Community Center, 3211 W Marshall Ave, Longview 75604
• White Oak Community Center (new) 1103 S. White Oak Rd (Behind Vera Bank), White Oak75693
• Meadowbrook Country Club, 1306 Houston St, Kilgore 75662
• Elderville Community Center, 10450 Hwy 349, Longview 75603
• Broughton Recreation Center, 801 5 MLK Jr Blvd, Longview 75602

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