Voters Across Texas Share What It's Like To Cast A Ballot During A Pandemic
It's the first time Texans are voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. KERA News reporters asked people what brought them to the polls and how voting felt different.
In North Texas, voters and poll workers are taking extra precautions with hand sanitizer, masks and social distancing. Many voters from around the metroplex said it’s their duty to get out and vote, even during the pandemic.
OAK CLIFF & WEST DALLAS
For the Cruz family, the primary runoff election was their first outing in a while. Maria Cruz, 63, said it’s an important one.
“We can’t tell future generations that things were bad or good if we haven’t done our part,” Cruz said.
She came out to cast her ballot at the Oak Cliff Sub Court House with her two daughters, Susana and Catalina.
“Did the social distancing, we did the sanitizer,” she said. “So we were never close to other people or unsafe at all.”
Some of the issues that matter to Maria are education and health care. She’s battling cancer, but her daughter Susana said that couldn’t stop her mother from exercising her civic duty.
“We've had to social distance and be careful about where we are with her. But this was definitely a priority today,” Susana said.
She said their family came out to vote during the pandemic because they hope to get more Latino representation in local government.
Corey Brooks, a 48-year-old Dallas resident and his wife were some of the first people in line at El Centro College West Campus.
“I felt safe. Everyone had their masks on,” he said.
Clyde Crayton Jr., 62, was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He said the voting process during the pandemic was a “walk in the park.”
He said he came out to vote because “it’s just part of my culture of me being who I am, as a black man.”
Denise Christian, 53, voted because she wants to inspire the younger generation, starting with her daughter.
“My parents instilled in me that it’s important to make your voice heard,” she said.
Craig Holcomb is the election judge at the El Centro College in West Dallas polling location. He greeted people at a distance and handing out the “I Voted” stickers.
“We have as much instructions and supplies on sanitizing as we do on voting,” he said.
Manny Guerrero, 41, said the voting process at Bowie High School went smoothly. There was plenty of hand sanitizer and he used a Q-tip to vote, so he didn’t have to touch any screens.
On El Paso's west side, Jacob Morales said, because of his work as a server, he has already been out during the pandemic. But he was still "kinda scared" to see how the voting process went at his polling place, Green Elementary School.
Like others, the complimentary the Q-tip helped put him at ease.
"They measures that they're taking, they're actually very comforting," he said.
Morales, who is a student at the University of Texas at El Paso, said it was especially important to him to elect leaders who support the Black Lives Matter movement. He spent the day sending his friends reminders to vote.
"It's important to hold everyone accountable for that," Morales said.
At sites like the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in Fort Worth, masks and pen sanitizers are available. Ricky Vazquez was the election judge in charge.
"We don't want people to say, I'm not voting because the COVID. Nah. Ain't no excuse this time. So, we ready for 'em," he said.
Malcolm Beaty has lived in Fort Worth all his life, and he came to vote this morning at the MLK Center.
“I came prepared with my own hand sanitizer and wipes, just to be on the safe side. I figured, couldn’t be any worse than going to the grocery store, and sure enough it wasn’t,” he said.
He said voting is one of the few things people can do to make change on a local level.
“I hope more people are getting out and voting, particularly the young people – the young people of color at that,” he said.
One issue on the ballot in Fort Worth is whether to continue the Crime Control and Prevention District sales tax that generates tens of millions of dollars for the city's police.
Local activist Daniel Garcia Rodriguez was campaigning against the tax outside one Fort Worth polling location. He said he voted that day, although he felt nervous about voting during a pandemic.
"Opportunities like today, when there's an issue that has to do with policing, and there's a nationwide conversation on policing, I see it very important and critical to be engaged in the election," Garcia Rodriguez said.
He said he'd like to see the state open up more opportunities for people to vote by mail.
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