Arlington, TX –April 14, 2015 – Moving one of the heaviest turn-out early voting sites in Tarrant County, (and the only early voting site south of I-20 in Arlington), without an extensive media campaign to notify the residents who normally vote there, is bad government.
Poorly planned and executed, this move of the early polling site from the City of Arlington’s South Service Center to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church gives the impression that it was done for political purposes, perhaps to benefit the incumbents in the local elections in May. This may not be the intent, however perception is vital in maintaining and building trust among constituents. The South Service Center Early Voting location is one of the heaviest minority voting sites in the County. The new location is farther west, leaving the heaviest minority quadrant of Arlington without an Early Voting Location.
I support the NAACP in their objection to the closing the South Service Center as an Early Voting Site. If Tarrant County Election Administration and The City of Arlington are concerned that, in the future, the South Service Center, will not be adequate to accommodate the voters, the prudent move would to add an additional site in the SE quadrant of the city, NOT TO CLOSE the MOST POPULAR Early Voting Site in the part of the city with the highest density of minority voters. A “replacement” sites should be located within a couple of blocks or east of the current one, not in a different quadrant of the City. St. Joseph’s is in SW Arlington! The current site is closer to S Central Arlington.
By moving the only Early Voting site south of I-20 even farther west will make it more difficult for working, middle class and elderly voters to access the site on their way to work or home. It appears the Mayor and the City Council are trying to reduce the influence of those voters on the local elections. I am hoping this is not the case.
The numbers presented in State Representative Chris Turner’s (HD 101) letter indicate the Mayor and the City Council should and could request the Tarrant County Election Center to create a new early voting site in southeast Arlington. There are a number of public schools and churches that could be used for the new site. Before the South Service Center is closed as an early voting site, the citizens of SE Arlington and leaders of the minority community, should be convened to consider where the new site should be established and what kind of facility the voters in that part of the city choose to meet their needs as the voters of SE Arlington. Merely considering it as an agenda item at a City Council meeting (where citizens are limited to 2 minute comments) is not sufficient. Show the citizens that this is not a politically motivated move to suppress minority voting by allowing them to participate in selecting a new voting site in SE Arlington!
Although the number of sites remains the same, it will not give balance geographically for the voters in Arlington. The number of early voting sites north of IS-20 is currently 6 to 1 site south of I-20. It would be a good sign of goodwill to south Arlington to open a new early voting site. Population density in Arlington south of I-20 merits at least two early voting sites. South Arlington has become a major part of the total part of the population of Arlington and should be allowed to have the same voting consideration as North and Central and West Arlington.
Replacing the Early Voting South Service Center, at 1100 SW Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington with:
St. Joseph Catholic Church Parish Hall, 1927 SW Green Oaks Boulevard does not properly balance the voting sites in Arlington.
The other 6 early voting sites are located are located North of I-20. They are: