Elections official says voting going well, system is secure

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by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and Photojournalist MICHAEL MOORE

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on November 1, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 1 at 7:01 PM

AUSTIN -- At one of Travis County's 23 early voting locations, voters spend their lunch hour sorting through dozens of elected positions and ballot proposals.

"It took me about ten minutes through the whole process of check-in, stand in the line," early voter Lisa Volle told KVUE, adding that the Travis County ballot's legendary length wasn't a major issue. "It looked deceptively very long, but it went faster."

"It was actually really quick," said Ruth Byington, who cast her ballot Thursday at the Hancock Center location in Central Austin. "I was in there for maybe ten minutes."

As record numbers of Texans visit the polls for early voting, Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade is visiting county elections officials across the state to make sure everything is running smoothly. Andrade believes the trend statewide shows more Texans voting early.

"If you're on your way to work, if you're on your way to drop off the kids at school, if you're on your way to the grocery store and you see a sign that says 'vote here,' you can stop and vote," said Andrade. "We do believe that the trend is more toward early voting."

Addressing media alongside Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir Thursday at the Travis County Clerk Elections Office, the state's top elections official also brushed aside Internet rumors of rigged voting machines and systemic issues with straight ticket ballots.

"In Texas, we do have a secure system," reassured Andrade. "We have a system that Texans can feel proud of."

"It's especially true for presidential elections, there will be some stories that get circulated, especially on the Internet, and what we do when people see a story that looks maybe a little unusual and it's probably not true, we say call us," said DeBeauvoir, urging voters with concerns to dial the county elections office at (512) 238-VOTE.

"Tell us what you've seen. We'll be happy to check into and tell you whether it's bogus or not," DeBeauvoir told KVUE. "We will double check just about anything."

The secretary of state says educating voters is the key, and part of that effort includes a new smartphone app called 'SmartTXVoter.' The free download can confirm registration status, direct users to ballot information and inform voters what types of identification are currently acceptable in order to vote.

One thing Texas voters won't need this election is a photo ID. The state law requiring photo identification has been temporarily placed on hold, pending the outcome of a legal battle over the legislation. After a woman was asked to cover up a shirt bearing the phrase "Vote the Bible" by an election judge in Williamson County, Andrade reiterated the state's legal stance on electioneering.

"You cannot walk into a polling place with anything on your body that promotes a cause, an issue, a candidate," Andrade told KVUE. "We just do not allow electioneering in the polling place."

For those voting early, it's time well spent.

"I think it's worth it because I think if you wait until Tuesday, you're going to hit longer lines," said Volle. "So you're actually saving time."

"We did it during lunch," said Paul Belangia, who voted with his wife Thursday at the Travis County Clerk's limited ballot location on Airport Boulevard. "That way next Tuesday when the massive amount of people are going to vote, standing in line, we don't have to do this."

Early voting lasts through Friday, and then voters will have a final chance to cast their ballot on election day Tuesday, November 6.

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