Castle Heights polling location facing closure for next election

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) -- The Brazos County Elections Office recorded more than 50,000 voters during early voting and on Election Day. Now, they're looking to cut the amount of polling locations from 25 to 19, likely targeting locations with the lowest attendance rates.

With just 215 voters casting their ballot, Castle Heights Baptist church had the second-lowest amount of voters show up to the polls. Wilborn Wilson, Jr. has lived in the neighborhood for more than 50 years.

"We have people that have struggled for their right to vote and this is just a stepping stone to remind the children of what our parents and forefathers did in order just to vote," Wilson said.

Brazos County Judge Duane Peters says the county is looking at nixing Castle Heights and other low turnout voting centers for the next election.

"We certainly wouldn't close a location that had a lot of people voting. It's going to be probably the locations that had fewer people vote that would be most likely the candidate on the list to close," Judge Peters said.

In Brazos County, registered voters can vote at any polling location in the county. When the county moved to that system, part of the agreement was cutting down on the number of places to cast a ballot. Judge Peters says he doesn't think this will hinder anyone from hitting the polls.

"I think if people want to go vote, and we give them ample opportunity and locations and two weeks to get that vote done, I don't see it causing a problem at all," Peters said.

Voting machines used at closed locations are also reallocated to busier locations, cutting down on wait times on Election Day.

Wilson worries if the Castle Heights polling location closes, his neighbors won't show up to vote at all.

"We have been just rolling along, keeping our heads barely above water. So, in order to keep this going on, to keep the poll open, to keep people interested in what's going on in our political arenas and stuff, yeah, we'll keep it open," Wilson said.

Judge Peters said Wednesday he expects the plan to go into effect over the next few months.

In a statement released to KBTX on Friday, Judge Peters clarified his original statements to KBTX, saying “It is the practice of Brazos County, at the conclusion of every election, to evaluate voting procedures. One of the factors evaluated will be the effectiveness of our polling locations. That process does not typically begin until several months after the election. It starts when a committee is appointed to evaluate the election returns and number of voters at each polling location. This process will include the opportunity for feedback from residents. It is always the focus of the county to keep the best interests of all residents at heart. At this time, the county has no plans to close any particular polling location.”

Complete voter turnout results are in the Related Documents section of this story.

Related Documents