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Voters in Port Arthur having to cast ballots in 2 elections causes confusion at polls

This problem is specific to Port Arthur voters only and dates back to 2010.

PORT ARTHUR, Texas — Voters having to vote in two different elections has caused confusion and frustration at polls in Port Arthur.  

One election, which includes the presidential race and senate races, is run by the county while the other is run by the city and includes the race for Port Arthur city council.

This problem is specific to Port Arthur voters only and dates back to 2010.

One ballot is usually how it works but in Port Arthur voters must, in effect, vote twice.

"This has been an ongoing problem with Port Arthur since the last census in 2010 when they changed their precincts," said Jefferson County Precinct 3 Commissioner Michael Senegal.

Port Arthur district boundaries, which determine which local races voters are eligible to vote in were updated following the 2010 census.

"It's defined by which side of the street you live on... half way up the block, it's like that," Senegal said.

The Jefferson County Clerk's Office depends on city leaders to provide correct boundary information that would be updated into a county database so the county could run city elections.

The Jefferson County Voter Registrar's Office database rejected a large portion of the information the City of Port Arthur provided saying the info was inaccurate.

There was not enough time before this election to correct the issues.

"It's a city issue that they should have fixed nearly nine years ago and they didn't do it," Senegal said.

The Port Arthur city secretary Sheri Bellard responded saying the county would not hold the city's election.

"However, someone had to give the citizens of Port Arthur an opportunity to cast their ballot," Bellard told 12News.

We've received complaints from voters saying the process is confusing including one man not realizing he needed to vote twice.

We caught him on his second trip to the sub-courthouse.... 

"I am returning now and it's a little after 11 a.m.,  so I don't have to return again to take care of my civic duty," he told 12News.

To try and reach voters Bellard says a flyer is going out to Port Arthur residents with their water bill to help clear up any confusion.

"I am holding the election and the voters need to vote and that's what is most important to me," Bellard said.

 Port Arthur voters need to be their own advocates ask themselves, "did I vote twice" before leaving polls in the city according to Commissioner Senegal.

Poll workers should be able to address your questions if you're confused Senegal says.

12News reached out to the Texas Secretary of State office to find out how often something like this happens in Texas but they have not responded to our request for comment.

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