From Texas Public Radio:
The Southwest Independent School District is holding both a trustee election and a $250 million bond election this May, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the Bexar County joint general ballot.
Even though Southwest ISD is located entirely in Bexar County, it holds elections in a different way that puts them on a separate ballot — and limits where voters can go to access those ballots. The method the district’s school board chooses to use forces people to vote twice during early voting if they want to vote for both the school board and San Antonio’s mayor. Even on Election Day, there are only a couple of polling sites that overlap.
Two of Southwest’s trustees want to change the way the district holds elections, but the board majority wants things to stay the way they are.
Outside Johnston Library on San Antonio’s West Side near Loop 410 recently, Yolanda Garza-Lopez pointed to a hilly street full of houses to the south.
“This street that runs through all the way to 410 — Lake Valley — I grew up on that street,” Garza-Lopez said. “Johnston Library has been the poll site for this community for many, many, many, many years.”
Garza-Lopez has been a trustee on the Southwest ISD school board since 2008. She’s running for re-election this year, but her name isn’t on the ballot at Johnston Library. Her old neighborhood is in Southwest ISD, but Johnston Library is just over the border in another school district.
If Southwest conducted joint elections with the City of San Antonio — like every other Bexar County school district that holds elections in May — Southwest voters would be able to vote in Southwest’s election at Johnston Library—or any other Bexar County early voting site.
But Southwest ISD’s school board chooses to conduct joint elections with the City of Lytle, a small town on the outskirts of Bexar County. That creates a separate ballot that can only be accessed at a handful of voting sites.
“That really, really suppresses the vote of the majority of the voters in our community,” Garza-Lopez said. “Not just because they have to go to a second site and access a second ballot, (but) because most of them don’t even know they’re missing our elections.”