Vote Centers, Long Lines, and Provisional Ballots in Galveston County, Texas

Vote Centers, Long Lines, and Provisional Ballots in Galveston County, Texas

Return to Election Data Dispatches.

Election Day did not get off to a smooth start in Galveston County, Texas. Unfortunately it didn’t finish well either.

The county was using vote centers for the first time during a presidential election, which allows voters to cast their ballot at any polling location. Of the 45 centers in the county, 38 reportedly did not open on time, leading to waits of one to 4.5 hours for some voters and prompting a judge to extend voting by almost two hours.

What happened?

State law requires a zero-out report on Election Day—printing out all races on every voting machine to ensure no votes have been recorded before polls open. The challenge with doing this in a vote center county is that each voting system has every possible ballot programmed into it—and they all must be printed out. In some cases the machines ran out paper and then had to be restocked. County election officials said this took much longer than they expected.

And the county’s woes didn’t end there. The 382 ballots cast during the court-mandated extended voting period were required by law to be cast as provisional ballots. Overall, more than 1,900 provisional ballots were cast in the county, although in one more hiccup, election officials still could not agree on the final count of provisional ballots three days after the election. Eventually all provisional ballots were accounted for.

The front facade of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, DC.
ian-hutchinson-U8WfiRpsQ7Y-unsplash.jpg_master

Agenda for America

A collection of resources to help federal, state, and local decision-makers set an achievable agenda for all Americans

Quick View

Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for emerging challenges, it makes government more effective and better able to serve the public interest. In the coming months, President Joe Biden and the 117th Congress will tackle a number of environmental, health, public safety, and fiscal and economic issues—nearly all of them complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To help solve specific, systemic problems in a nonpartisan fashion, Pew has compiled a series of briefings and recommendations based on our research, technical assistance, and advocacy work across America.

Lightbulbs
Lightbulbs

States of Innovation

Data-driven state policy innovations across America

Quick View

Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for difficult challenges. When states serve their traditional role as laboratories of innovation, they increase the American people’s confidence that the government they choose—no matter the size—can be effective, responsive, and in the public interest.