May 2 elections postponed to November
As of Wednesday, April 8, all May 2 elections across the county have been postponed to the Nov. 3 general election date due to COVID-19.
According to a press release from Young County Elections Administrator Lauren Sullivan, the decision was made due to the uncertainty across the nation related to the virus and under the guidance of local authorities and the office of the Texas Secretary of State and Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order to Stay at Home.
“Communication about these elections will be ongoing with the voting public,” Sullivan wrote in the release. “We will utilize each entity’s website, social media, and public media outlets to continue to make sure voters have all the information they need to cast their ballots. If you have already sent in your ballot by mail, it will be held and counted in November, if it meets all the requirements.”
Sullivan said voters eligible for ballots by mail are those 65 or older, those with a disability, those planning to be outside of the county, or those confined in jail. She posted the criteria for disability in order to qualify for ballot by mail, according to the Texas Election Code, on the election Facebook page.
“A qualified voter is eligible for early voting by mail if the voter has a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from appearing at the polling place on election day without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or of injuring the voter’s health,” the code states.
Early voting by personal appearance for the election will run Monday, Oct. 19 through Friday, Oct. 30. Sullivan wrote in an email that the standard early and election day polling places within the county will stay the same. The early voting locations will be North Central Texas College, Olney Community Library and Newcastle City Hall. Election day voting locations will add the Loving Fire Department and First United Methodist Church in Graham, along with the three early voting locations.
“There will be no new filing times for candidates that would have been on the May ballot, but all other dates will hold true to the November calendar,” Sullivan wrote in an email.
She wrote in the release that each political subdivision within the county will make a decision regarding the election by April 20. Graham ISD is meeting Wednesday, April 15 to take action on postponing the May 2 election. The city of Graham made the decision to postpone their election at an emergency called city council meeting on Thursday, April 9.
In March, Sullivan said she made contact with representatives from Graham ISD, Olney ISD, Newcastle ISD, city of Graham and city of Olney, in order to offer them the chance to postpone their election dates. All entities made the choice to keep all voting and election related dates as they are, according to Sullivan. The entities hosting elections will now be moving the elections to Nov. 3. Sullivan said in a previous interview that the reason the entities would not move the elections was to keep positions on those boards during this time.
“We can only push it to November, but we have still got to have school boards and we have still got to have city councils and mayors and those sorts of things so we can get through the current events. And all of those people are going off their boards at the middle of May,” she said in a March interview. “I think that was another factor in everybody wanting to go ahead and keep up their date, was that we’ve got people who are leaving simply because their term is up.”
Sullivan said in an email that as of now the primary runoff election, which was scheduled for Tuesday, May 26, and moved into July by Gov. Abbott, will still be happening on Tuesday, July 14. She said in a previous interview that there were primary election dates, which were moved by the legislature, but nothing to the extent which required her to contact each entity in this way which are contracted through the county.
“There have been elections that have been moved in the past due to law changes and that sort of thing, but calling schools and cities to say, ‘Hey there is an emergency and we could change dates,’ no, this is new territory for everybody,” she said.
As far as keeping things clean and safe for voters in Young County during the May 2 election, Sullivan said in a previous interview that she has been in contact with area leaders to make sure safety precautions are in place.
“I have been in contact with (Dr.) Steve Jones and (EMC) Greg Coker and (County) Judge (John) Bullock, to make sure that polling locations will be adequately cleaned and maintained and there will be six-to-eight feet between voters and all that sort of thing,” she said.
She said an option which she planned to make available for voters was a curbside voting option.
“If you don’t feel comfortable coming into the polling location, we can make that an option,” she said in a previous interview. “They would just need to call the office and let us know either when they are coming, or that they are there and we can get those machines out to them. That generally is something that we try to use for our disabled voters, but I’m willing to make those available to those who don’t feel like it is safe to come inside the building.”
Lauren said in a previous interview that all the entities within the county have been accommodating to the elections office and added the office will work to be accommodating to the voters.
“We will do everything we can to keep our voters safe,” she said. “We do hope that they turn out in some way, and if they have any questions, they are always welcome to call and ask me and we can figure out a solution to any problem.”
For more information, visit the Young County Election Facebook page.