Dallas County officials Tuesday promised election preparations are ahead of schedule despite concerns voiced by one county commissioner.
County Commissioner J.J. Koch said people in the Dallas County election department are “screaming and crying” over break downs, just a week before early voting begins and four weeks before election day.
Koch cited new equipment, COVID-19 and extremely high turnout expected in a bitter political climate as causes for concern.
“In a situation like this, experience is actually dangerous because you have watched a number of elections under very different circumstances. So, it's easy to be lulled into a false sense of security,” Koch said.
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Other county officials disagreed.
Commissioner Theresa Daniel said Koch was only speculating about problems that could arise, which election officials said they have anticipated.
Assistant Election Administrator Robert Heard said Dallas County is leading much of what is going on for Texas preparations.
“We are still going strong and we are determined to make sure that none of these things stand in the way of a good voting experience for our voters. So no, we are not behind. If anything, we are doing very well,” Heard said.
The longest-serving county commissioner, John Wiley Price, defended the election people and said he tried to warn constituents not be believe rumors on social media.
“We’re not keystone cops,” Price said. “Just because it’s on the internet, does not make it correct.”
Commissioners accepted a $15 million grant Tuesday that will help pay for extreme preparations like extra personal protective equipment and added education for voters leading up to election day.
For instance, electronic equipment like cell phones may not be operated in voting booths. But, voters are welcome to bring sample ballots they’ve marked in advance to help mark real ballots faster.
Another challenge that may lead to long lines is that the November ballot will be extremely long, especially in cities that moved municipal elections from May because of COVID-19. Straight ticket voting for a single party is no longer allowed, so voters must mark each individual race.
“This election is going to require that all of us work together without attacking each other, but holding everybody accountable,” Commissioner Elba Garcia said.
The election officials said they have added staff and equipment to prepare.