The Bexar County elections administrator has already identified more than a dozen polling places to add to the roster of Election Day voting sites, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said Wednesday.

“I just talked to [Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen] a couple hours ago,” Wolff told San Antonio Chamber of Commerce CEO Richard Perez at the annual State of the County address, hosted by the chamber. “She’s got 16 so far that she can open. But I think she’ll find two more and she’s going to have that ready and announce it tomorrow.”

Last week, Judge Karen Pozza of Texas’ 407th District Court ordered the Elections Department to add Election Day polling sites and post Election Day polling locations earlier than usual. Callanen has until Thursday to add 18 more polling places, bringing the Election Day total to 302 sites. The increase in polling locations resulted from a lawsuit brought forward by MOVE Texas and the Texas Organizing Project (TOP) earlier in October.

Wolff briefly recapped Bexar County’s past year at his annual State of the County address, including how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the local economy, voting procedures, and the community’s mental health. He pointed to the county commissioners’ Tuesday vote to establish a relief fund for restaurants and bars as one of the ways the County has been focused on supporting small businesses.

“Other than the big hotels, [restaurants and bars] have suffered more than anybody,” Wolff said. “They’re struggling to keep up and going.”

He emphasized the importance of equipping restaurants and bars with personal protective equipment (PPE) to allow them to open safely during the pandemic. Wolff signed an executive order last Thursday that allowed bars to reopen with up to 50 percent capacity, and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has approved Bexar County’s request to reopen bars.

“I think I’ve had maybe 10 or 15 [bar owners] that have come through my office saying that they’re going to open now,” Wolff said.

Wolff also reemphasized the county commissioners’ commitment to fund the linear creek trails system. Commissioners voted on Oct. 6 to direct staff to review the original funding proposal and recommend changes.

“We are committed to doing it; it’s just a question of when we can do it,” Wolff said. “And … we’ve got two new people coming on the court this year, and I believe all the candidates there said they support the creek program also.”

As far as schools reopening, Wolff said he was glad to see more students physically returning to campuses. The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District did advise schools last week about taking precautions as the community positivity rate rose above 5 percent.

“Now I must say, we were all concerned about what would happen when schools open,” he said. “Some school districts started at 30 percent. Some are up to 70 percent. But as of yesterday, out of all the kids that have returned to classes, we only had 194 cases in schools.

“My grandson just started Monday. He took the first nine weeks off to do it online. Now he’s in school, and he’s happy as a bug to be back there. And [students] need to be back with each other.”

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Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang covered local government for the San Antonio Report.