Voters continue to put up high early voting totals in what is expected to be one of the biggest voter turnouts Denton County has seen.
As voters streamed in and out of the polls to determine city propositions and other ballot items such as the state’s next governor, there were some reported growing pains at the new polling site at Sycamore Hall at the University of North Texas on Monday.
“The way I understand it, there hadn’t been voting at UNT before,” said Lannie Noble, Denton County elections administrator. “Some people wanted to get one on campus and the college offered us a place. We didn’t know what to expect there.”
Noble downplayed complaints of lines at the site, saying there will be lines at any voting location.
“If 20 people show up and we have four pieces of equipment, then we have a line,” he said. “With any voting location you can have lines. The way I understand it from the judge there, they went through the lines quickly.”
There was a technical issue that was causing the computers at the site to not see full information on voters to show they were registered, but that was eventually sorted out, Noble said.
He said some of the technical issues were only discovered today since early voting at UNT is occurring during this final week only.
Dianne Edmondson, chairwoman of the Denton County Republican Party, harbored a harsher assessment of the campus polling site.
“This polling site is a mess,” she said.
Edmondson noted what she called “altercations” outside the polling site with people who are in favor of the fracking ban being aggressive with those who support it.
“And twice people who claimed they represented the university tried to pull signs from both sides, saying they couldn’t be there, whereas state election law said they could,” she said. “It’s a terrible site just from the logistics of it. The line has to snake around [and] when you stand at a certain spot, you can see how people are voting.”
Edmondson said she knew Noble and his administration were trying their best to make the voting process run as smooth as possible.
“I am not blaming the elections administration,” she said. “I know they are doing a good job.”
Edmondson said she went to the administration office to complain about a poll watcher who she said was not following election rules, by sitting with the clerks at the site and answering voters’ questions.
“All a poll watcher can do is talk to the presiding clerk if there is an issue that needs to be reported,” she said. “When our poll watcher called certain things to their attention, sometimes they would be handled, sometimes not.”
Phyllis Wolper, Denton County Democratic Party chairwoman, said the only issue she was aware of was related to the signs at the polling location.
“We were told by the campus we couldn’t put signs up,” Wolper said. “I was assuming that was university policy. I really didn’t question it. I instructed our people to put any signs on any legal location near that polling place.
“I think it’s a shame, personally, that the polling place would not have an assigned location for signage and stuff like other polling sites, [but] it can help other people locate the site.”
Noble said his office did receive a phone call early Monday from someone who was told to remove a sign from near the polling site.
“The gentleman calling me said he wasn’t going to remove them since legally it was allowed,” Noble said. “I didn’t get a follow-up phone call. It could be a communication thing.”
Early voting continues in the county through Friday.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter @BjLewisDRC.