‘High emotions’: How Bexar County is preparing for election day

To increase the comfort level of voters, Callanen said a new group of poll workers has been recruited to help out.

SAN ANTONIO — When Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen invited members of the media for a first time ever behind the scenes tour of her department, there was transparency and caution.

“We have a great group of election officials.  We really do, but this year there’s a lot of high emotion in these elections,” Callanen said, explaining people are already filing requests to be able to inspect voting results even though the election is still two months away.

Callanen said “A lot of the requests are coming with difficult language attached to them,” but she declined to say what kind of difficulties they are experiencing.   While no problems have been publicly reported in Bexar County, last month the Gillespie County elections administrator resigned from her position, citing threats concerning her job.  

To increase the comfort level of voters, Callanen said a new group of poll workers has been recruited to help out.

“Next Saturday, on the 24th, we are having, this room will be filled up with Vets of America. All of the veterans groups, we have a plan in place and they have been very receptive and they are going to come in so that we can show them and give them a higher view of what they would be doing,” Callanen said. 

Calling the move a huge help, Callanen said “They immediately rose to the occassion and said they could provide a vet at every one of our polls as a clerk.  So again, that’s something in motion.  So that would help us tremendously.”

Callanen said the fact that three local school districts have already declared a student holiday on election day is also a help.

Northside, North East and Southwest ISDs have all said they will close schools so that the sites can be used for voting, Callanen said.

Callanen said her office has tried to maintain a cordial relationship with all local districts.

“After Uvalde, it’s a huge concern so we have to respect what they’re saying and doing for security and precautions because everything is ramped up,” Callanen said.  

Callanen said in addition to the fact that the building is secure, everyone on her team has to pass a yearly background check, and so do the employees of the contractor who moves the machines to the polls.

At every point along the process, Callanen said there are safety and security protocols that are strictly followed.  Only six people have access to the tightly controlled tabulation room.  The voting machines are secured in carts that are triple locked.  Each machine is tested before it is delivered to a polling place.

Callanen said she wants the 65% of voters who take advantage of early voting and the crowds who show up at the polls on election day to feel comfortable that the process is safe and secure.  “When they cast that vote? We’re going to count it and that’s our pledge to you,” Callanen said.

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