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County officials on Monday approved plans to move early voting back to the Cooke County Courthouse Annex for the spring 2020 primary elections.

By a unanimous vote with all members present Dec. 9, the Cooke County Commissioners’ Court approved proposed early voting and Election Day polling locations for the March 3, 2020 primary elections along with various other matters related to the spring primaries.

Officials had moved early voting to the Cooke County Commissioners’ Courtroom on the first floor of the Cooke County Courthouse for the period leading up to the Nov. 5 constitutional amendment election.

However, commissioners agreed the county annex building proved to be better suited for the volume of voters expected to cast ballots during the presidential primaries.

“There wasn’t enough room here and there was plenty of room in the courtroom, and the voters liked it better because it was more accessible for them,” Cooke County Clerk Pam Harrison said from her office in the Cooke County Courthouse building, steps away from the commissioners’ courtroom.

Harrison’s office oversees local elections. She said voters liked being able to park closer to the entrance of the annex building and not having to use either stairs or an elevator to reach the polling place. In contrast, early voters had to use either the courthouse steps or the ground floor elevator to reach the commissioners’ courtroom this past fall.

“I’m glad they decided to move it back over there” to the annex building, Harrison said. “I think the voters will be happy with that.”

With the change, early voting will be back where it was during the 2016 presidential elections, she said.

MORE BALLOT MACHINES

County officials also OK’d plans to purchase 10 more ExpressVote ballot marking devices ahead of the presidential primary elections in spring 2020.

By a 5-0 vote, commissioners approved the purchase of additional ballot machines for $35,400 at their regular meeting Monday.

The vote did not amend the county budget to fund the purchase, however. County Judge Jason Brinkley said at the meeting he expected to put a budget amendment for the purchase on the next meeting’s agenda for a separate vote.

Harrison told commissioners the new machines had been received well during the Nov. 5 election and poll workers had requested a few more for the busiest precincts.

She plans to put one more machine at each of the following 10 precinct locations: the Gainesville Civic Center; Hillcrest Church of Christ; the Mountain Springs Community Center; Valley View First Baptist Church; the Era Community Center; Muenster First Baptist Church; Conrad Hall in Lindsay; East Side Church of the Nazarene in Gainesville; Lake Kiowa Lodge; and the Moss Lake Fire Station.

Four of those locations had two ballot machines for the constitutional amendment election, according to a breakdown of proposed ballot machine locations provided to county commissioners. Conrad Hall, Lake Kiowa Lodge and the Baptist churches in Valley View and Muenster had three machines. The Nazarene church and the Moss Lake Fire Station had one apiece.

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