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UNT polling location for city council Election Day uncertain

UNT polling location for city council Election Day uncertain

UNT polling location for city council Election Day uncertain
March 01
10:00 2019

While it is likely there will be on-campus voting during early voting for the city council elections, it remains uncertain whether UNT will serve as a polling place on Election Day, which is on May 4.

The uncertainty comes after an ethics board unanimously agreed that two council members, Deb Armintor of At Large Place 5 and Paul Meltzer of At Large Place 6, had conflicts of interest and cannot discuss any matters having to do with UNT. Armintor is a UNT professor and Meltzer is married to a UNT professor.

“The campus seems to be off the table,” Armintor said. “But who knows? For all I know there are four people poised to vote no to a near campus voting location. It’s cynical to say this but that would not surprise me.”

While it is the Denton County Commissioner’s Court that makes decisions regarding early voting polling locations, it is the city council that decides where people can vote on Election Day.

The question of conflicts of interest came up at the Feb. 5 meeting, having been brought up by District 3 council member Don Duff. Following that meeting, both Meltzer and Armintor asked the ethics panel to review the issue, which they did on Feb. 14.

“I was disappointed, but it’s the way it’s written in the ethics ordinance,” Armintor said.

Armintor said she thinks it is unfortunate that recusal from discussion and voting was mandated by the ethics committee.

“But I understand it,” Armintor said. “I’m repeating myself here, hitting home the point that it’s a possible reading but it’s really not the best reading as far as what ethics ordinances are supposed to do and be about, which is the appearance of impropriety.”

Gerard Hudspeth, District 1 city council member, said he thinks both UNT and Texas Woman’s University deserve polling locations “for early voting, certainly.”

“Day of voting, if that is something that can be done, I support that,” Hudspeth said. “But, I would like to have a conversation about why is [78] hours of early voting not enough. It won’t change my opinion, I just want someone to help me understand.”

Criminal justice sophomore Kylie Matticks said she thinks it is OK that there is voting on campus during early voting but not on election day.

“I think that would work,” Matticks said. “I think people would actually do early voting more because it’s on campus. They don’t have to travel anywhere.”

Hudspeth said nothing has been decided when it comes to a day of voting location at UNT.

“Early voting is the county’s decision and they’ve indicated they’re going to move forward with that,” Hudspeth said. “So we’re talking about day of voting. We’re not talking about the [78] hours before the day of. So, the other 12 hours are undecided. The [78] hours are decided.”

Armintor said that for a location to be a polling place, it has to meet a number of requirements.

“You need to have [ADA] accessible doors and entrance ways and access to the door and access through the doorway,” Armintor said. “And ADA accessible bathrooms. And of course, you need to have a space where the voting can take place.”

Armintor said she is “really sorry” this is how it turned out, referring to the ethics decision.

“But the ethics ordinance — it’s new, it’s a work-in-progress,” Armintor said. “And there are some areas that will have to be made tighter, stricter and others that will have to be made looser.”

Armintor added that this is all about the appearance of impropriety.

“That’s the biggest issue, [the] biggest question that’s before any ethics committee,” she said. “And I don’t think voting for a polling location at UNT is the appearance of impropriety, even to people who don’t want it.”

Featured Image: The Village Church has been suggested as a possible voting location. Image by: Trevor Seibert.

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Lizzy Spangler

Lizzy Spangler

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