Polls closed Friday evening for those who plan to vote early in the primary runoff and Fort Worth’s election to renew a half-cent sales tax for police.
Early voting began Monday, June 29 and ended Friday, July 10 at 7 p.m. In Tarrant County, more than 50,300 ballots have been cast as of 7 p.m. Friday.
“That’s more than the entire 2016 runoff,” Tarrant County Elections Administrator Heider Garcia said. “That’s just early voting in person. We still have that absentee on election day.”
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Garcia said overall, the two weeks of early voting have gone smoothly. With voters heading to the polls amid a pandemic, election officials have put health and safety measures in place. In Tarrant County, that included ‘contactless voting’, which Garcia said will also be offered during the runoff election Tuesday.
“The goal of ‘let’s not reduce equipment’ and aim for a quicker experience has gone pretty, pretty well. We’ve virtually seen no lines anywhere,” Garcia said Friday. “I think we have achieved so far, what we set out to do, which was a quick experience so people wouldn’t be at the polling place for too long and exposed in this environment with these concerns that everyone has.”
Emilie Love of Fort Worth voted at JPS’ Viola Pitts/Como Health Center on Bryant Irvin Road, the second busiest polling site for voters in Tarrant County.
“It was so easy. It was a breeze. I walked in, it was very clean. Sanitizing stations on the way in. Clearly marked with six-foot distances if you did need to wait. I did not need to wait at all,” Love said. “I walked right in, showed them my driver’s license. They gave me a ballot, and I was in and out in probably two minutes.”
Garcia said while early voting has gone well, there are always areas to improve. One area in particular, he said, was how poll workers address the issue of masks.
“If the poll worker needs to see your face, you do have to show your face momentarily. It’s something important. We’ve had two or three calls people asking, ‘why do I have to lower my mask or show my face?’ That’s what the law requires and the poll worker needs to do it,” he explained. “We’re going to work a lot in understanding how to help poll workers get that message across in a way that is more helpful and not conflictive. It’s different to say ‘you need to remove your mask’ and sometimes that shuts down the conversation.”
Moving forward, he said it’s also important to have proper ID before heading to the polls and understanding the ballot in order to help with lines.
Polls closed Friday at 7 p.m. for early voting.