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Senate bill would end countywide voting on Election Day, require ballots cast in precincts

Texas Senate moves to end countywide voting on Election Day
Texas Senate moves to end countywide voting on Election Day 02:54

DALLAS (CBSNewsTexas) - People living in most North Texas counties can vote anywhere in their county on Election Day. But a new bill that passed last week in the Texas Senate by a 17-12 vote along party lines would change that.

Under SB 990, voters would instead be required to cast their ballots only in their precincts on Election Day. 

Senator Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, whose district includes Dallas County, wrote the bill and told CBSNewsTexas Monday that he doesn't believe there is enough transparency or accuracy in countywide voting.

"Some might consider that to be an inconvenience, but I think the security of elections is far more important than the convenience of voting." 

An audit of Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Harris Counties released by the Secretary of State last December found some isolated problems but nothing widespread, including fraud. 

"I think it's just another attempt by politicians trying to limit the way we can vote," said voter  Nancy Miller.

Senator Nathan Johnson, D-Dallas, told CBS News Texas that any claims of widespread problems with countywide voting are unsubstantiated. 

"There's just no evidence that there's any problem whatsoever with the systems that we have. I want people to vote, I want people to be encouraged to vote and eliminating one of the only things we've done recently to improve convenience is just a huge step backwards."

Some voters said they like being able to vote at any polling location in their county on election day. 

DeMetris Sampson said, "I don't live anywhere near this place. I happen to be shopping and eating near here and it allows me to vote here and that's the way it ought to be." 

Another voter, Michael Del Toro said, "It makes it a lot more easy. Usually people work, they have busy schedules, and it would be very hard to vote if they do pass that type of bill." 

If approved, this bill would not make changes to early voting - people across Texas could still vote anywhere in their county. But Senator Hall said he ultimately would like to change that as well. 

"We're taking this a step at a time. I very much would have liked to have gone to precinct voting for both early voting and election day. As a matter of fact, I would like to see us move away from a separate early voting and separate election day." 

For now, Hall's bill to require people go back to voting in their precinct on Election Day must still pass in the House. No word yet when it will be debated in that chamber.

Follow Jack on Twitter: @cbs11jack

Texas Sen. Bob Hall explains why he wants to end countywide Election Day voting 17:04
Texas Sen. Nathan Johnson on his opposition to ending countywide Election Day voting 07:42
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