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Early elections kick off with new equipment

Early elections kick off with new equipment

There is now early voting for the Constitutional Amendment Election. There are "vote" signs outside the Denton County Elections Administration building in Denton, Texas for voters to come in and vote on Oct. 23. This location is out of many early voting locations around Denton County. Brigitte Zumaya

Early elections kick off with new equipment
October 25
21:41 2017

Early voting for Denton County’s Constitutional Amendment Election began Monday, and the Denton County Elections Administration is preparing for another busy election season. On the first day of elections, roughly 700 people throughout Denton County voted.

On the ballot this year for the City of Denton is five amendments to the city charter.

The city charter, first created and adopted on April 4, 1914, is the constitution for the City of Denton. Since then, many amendments have been made, including ones in this election.

Varying on the type of election, 50 to 60 percent of voters vote during early elections and the rest vote on election day, Election Administrator Frank Phillips said.

The five propositions on this year’s ballot include city council member residency qualifications, increasing the percentage of petitioners required to trigger a recall election, establishing the internal city auditor position as permanent and full time, the adoption of an ethics ordinance and an amendment regarding the pay of city council members.

In June 2015, former city council members Joey Hawkins and Kevin Roden voted against the hydraulic fracturing ban, also known as fracking, sparking anger with citizens and residents in their districts. In the following months, petitions for a recall election were created and a special election was held in May 2016. In the petition sent in for Hawkins, there were 76 valid signatures and 145 for Roden. The minimum to trigger a special election was 75.

On Oct. 16, Internal City Auditor Craig Hametner abruptly resigned from his position after eight months on the job. Prior to his hiring, the position was left open for seven years. Hametner sent his letter of resignation and retirement in an email to city officials, who have yet to get back to him about it.

“This was a shock,” City Council Member Keely Briggs said in a Facebook post. “In his short time in office the auditor has proved to be a valuable position reporting directly to council. This position is not a luxury, it is a must-have. While we do not know the reasons that our previous auditor stepped down (and I am working to find out), we will immediately begin the search for his replacement. This is very important to me.”

Residents in Denton, as well as city council members, have made a push for an ethics ordinance. The City of Denton does have an ethics ordinance committee, but there is still debate about ethics within the city council and the need to enforce rules regarding it.

Currently, out of the seven city council members, the only one being paid is the mayor. One of the propositions will determine whether the other six are paid a stipend of $750 a month.

“I don’t think that city council members should be paid,” Denton resident Courtney Mitchell said. “It gives more power.”

The elections commission had a list of mishaps with last year’s presidential election. It caused several misunderstandings and multiple recounts of the ballots. Now, Denton County Elections has purchased new voting equipment, the Hart InterCivic’s Verity system. It was used for the first time on Monday.

During the last election, votes were counted a total of three times due to how unorganized and unreliable the previous voting system was. Now there is a true paper trail with the new voting system. It makes it possible for administrators to make an audit if needed. Denton County is the first place in the nation the new system is being used.

“We are very prepared for this election,” Denton County Elections Administrator Frank Phillips said. “We are getting good responses from the poll workers. Everything is going to plan.”

On the ballot are the following in regards to amending the city charter.

City of Denton Proposition A

“Shall Section 2.02 of the City Charter be amended to clarify that

councilmember residency qualifications apply to the councilmember’s domicile

(principal residence), where the councilmember must have resided for at least

one year prior to the election?”

City of Denton Proposition B

“Shall Section 4.13 of the City Charter be amended to increase the percentage

of petitioners required to trigger a Recall Election from twenty-five percent (25%)

to thirty-five percent (35%)?”

City of Denton Proposition C

“Shall Section 6.04 of the City Charter be amended to clarify that the Internal

City Auditor shall be a permanent, full-time position and clarify the

responsibilities?”

City of Denton Proposition D

“Shall Sections 14.04 and 14.05 of the City Charter be repealed and replaced

with a provision requiring the adoption of an Ethics Ordinance by the City

Council in accordance with Texas law and adheres to certain minimum

standards?”

City of Denton Proposition E

“Shall a section be added to the City Charter providing for councilmembers to

receive an initial monthly stipend of seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00) and

the Mayor to receive an initial monthly stipend of one thousand dollars

($1000.00) during their respective terms of office and providing for restrictions

on subsequent increases to the stipend amount?”

Early voting locations are at the following time, date and place:

Monday – Friday, Oct. 23 – 27 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 28 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 29 1 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Monday – Friday, Oct. 30 – Nov. 3 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Steven E Copeland Government Center, 1400 FM 424, Cross Roads 1197

Lewisville Municipal Annex, 1 Main Street, Lewisville

Justin Municipal Complex, 415 N. College Ave., Justin

Carrollton Public Library, 4220 N. Josey, Carrollton

Denton County Elections Administration, 701 Kimberly Dr., Denton

Timberglen Library, 18505 Midway Rd., Dallas

Highland Village Municipal Complex, 1000 Highland Village Rd., Highland Village 3

Pilot Point Senior Center, 10 S Washington St., Pilot Point

Flower Mound Police and Court Building, 4150 Kirkpatrick, Flower Mound

Corinth City Hall, 3300 Corinth Pkwy., Corinth

Frisco Fire Station #7, 330 W Stonebrook Pkwy.

Frisco Fire Station #4, Frisco 4485 Cotton Gin, Frisco

The Colony Annex Building, 6804 Main St., The Colony

Krum ISD Administration Building, 1200 Bobcat Blvd., Krum

Little Elm Library, 100 W Eldorado Pkwy., Little Elm

Aubrey ISD Building, 415 Tisdell Ln., Aubrey

Denton County Southwest Courthouse, 6200 Canyon Falls Dr., Flower Mound 212

Lake Dallas City Hall, Main Street, Lake Dallas

The following early voting locations will ONLY be open the dates and times listed:

Sanger Church of Christ, 400 N Locust St., Sanger, Monday – Friday Oct. 23 – 27 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday Oct. 28 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., Monday – Tuesday Oct. 30 – 31 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., Wednesday Nov 1 7 a.m. – 5 p.m., Thursday – Friday Nov  2 – 3 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Denton Civic Center, 321 E McKinney, Denton Monday – Friday, Oct. 23 – 27 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday – Friday Oct. 30 – Nov 3 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Featured Image: Early voting has started for the Constitutional Amendment Election. There are “vote” signs outside the Denton County Elections Administration building in Denton, Texas for voters to come in and vote on Oct. 23. This location is out of many early voting locations around Denton County. Brigitte Zumaya

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Julia Falcon

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