The secretary of state has approved Erath County's request to permanently do away with individual precinct polling places, replacing them with 11 vote centers open to all voters.

In approving the precinct polling place program, the state's elections division commended county officials on helping to develop methods and procedures for conducting elections to better serve residents.

Erath is one of only five counties to be accepted into the new voting method, according to Elections Clerk Sara Caudle.

For most elections in the last five years, the secretary of state's office has authorized Erath to allow voters to cast a single ballot at any polling place instead of being tied to a specific ballot box at one of 21 precincts. Until 2007, voters were required to vote at the polling place in the precinct in which they reside, not always the closest or most convenient.

In July, county political party chairs and Chamber of Commerce representatives pushed commissioners to approve the application to the state. The secretary of state approved the county's request two days after receiving the formal application.

The state can at any time revoke its order allowing the program if it feels elections are not "successful," a subjective word, but all-important to the Department of Justice.

In November, voters can cast ballots at the Erath County Courthouse, TexasBank, United Cooperative Services, CitiBank, Century Link, First National Bank of Dublin, Huckabay ISD, Selden Community Center, Morgan Mill Community Center, Lingleville ISD or the Bluff Dale Fire Department.