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Burnet County officials working toward smooth and safe election

Burnet County prepares for general election

The Burnet County Elections Office reported an increase in the number of ballot-by-mail applications for the Nov. 3 election. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Burnet County officials are working to ensure the Nov. 3 general election and early voting leading up to it go smoothly.

One improvement was to expand early voting sites from two to four. Early voting is Oct. 13-30.

“That’s something I’m pretty proud of,” said Burnet County Judge James Oakley. “I wanted to expand the early voting to four places, which will help cut down on the lines we experienced before. It also helps as we grow (as a county).”

The two new early voting locations are the Granite Shoals Community Center, 1208 N. Phillips Ranch Road, and the Joann Cole Mitte Memorial Library, 170 N. Gabriel St. in Bertram. The other two sites are the Burnet County AgriLife Extension Service building, 607 N. Vandeveer St. in Burnet, and the Burnet County Courthouse South Annex, 810 Steve Hawkins Parkway in Marble Falls.

Texas voters also get an extra week of early voting after Gov. Greg Abbott extended it to help alleviate long lines and wait times amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

During the Burnet County Commissioners Court meeting Aug. 11, Elections Administrator Doug Ferguson asked commissioners to approve moving the polling location for voting precinct 18 from the Granite Shoals Fire Department to the community center.

“It will be the second-largest inside voting space next to the AgriLife (auditorium),” Ferguson said. 

Commissioners approved that measure as well as the purchase of a Pitney Bowes letter opener for the Elections Office. With a higher-than-normal interest in mail-in ballots, officials anticipate more people will choose this method.

“We’ve already had four times the people request mail-in ballots than we usually do,” Oakley said. 

He pointed out that the state hasn’t expanded mail-in ballot qualifications, but eligible residents are taking advantage of the option. Under Texas law, a person must meet one of four qualifications in order to vote by mail:

  • be 65 years or older
  • have a disability
  • expect to be out of the county during early voting and Election Day
  • be confined in jail but otherwise eligible

Residents can apply for a ballot by mail through Friday, Oct. 23.

Ferguson said the Elections Office will mail COVID-19 updates and information to registered Burnet County voters.

In other business, commissioners voted to propose a 2020-21 county property tax rate of 39.99 cents per $100 valuation, the same as the current rate.

They’ll hold a public hearing on the proposed rate and 2020-21 budget during their regular meeting Aug. 25 at 9 a.m. The meeting takes place in the Burnet County Courthouse’s second-floor courtroom, 220 S. Pierce St. in Burnet.