No local polling spot for Gladewater voters

There were no nearby polling locations available for Gladewater’s Gregg County residents last Tuesday, and it’s sparked a fresh conversation between local and county officials.
Importantly, a $19 million bond election for a county courthouse parking structure was on the ballot alongside 14 state constitutional amendments. The county’s electorate signed off on the county’s proposal, and officials noted an increased turnout in what would typically be a relatively muted vote compared to election years with the president on the ticket.
Through countywide polling, Gregg County voters can cast their ballot at any poll. It wasn’t a substantial track for most residents with the closest polls in White Oak’s Jim Nall Training, Sabine ISD’s Old Elementary Cafeteria and the Greggton Community Center at 3211 W. Marshall Ave.
The lack of a Gladewater polling station sparked frustration with some voters, however, and they were keen for details about why this election was different from past years.
There’s a straightforward answer from county officials: it saves residents’ tax dollars.
Opening an Election Day polling location in Gladewater (or elsewhere) costs between $4,500 and $5,000 to cover 4-6 workers for about 14 hours in addition to the expense for the location and for the polling equipment. The county election office’s decision also anticipated lower voter turnout based on prior years’ data.
Running an early voting location costs between $12,000 and $15,000. It’s why the county opted for a minimum number of polling spots this time around, focusing on county- and city-owned buildings.
Voters did use the opportunity to weight in, though.
More than 8 percent of the county’s 73,723 registered voters had cast a ballot during Early Voting and the first hours of Election Day, Nov. 7. Total turnout was almost 15 percent by the day’s end.
Ultimately, slightly more than 54 percent of the voters OK’d the county’s parking garage bond – just shy of 6,000 votes in favorite to about 5,000 against.
Regarding future elections, Mayor Scott Owens says he and other Gladewater elected officials and administrators are reaching out to the county to rectify the local polling issue.

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