Decision 2020

NBC 5 Responds: What Voters Need to Know About Masks, Ballots and Lines Before Tuesday

NBCUniversal, Inc.

The night before Election Day, hundreds of volunteers are preparing to drive people to the polls for free.

“We've been driving all through early voting, but there's just something special about Election Day,” said Sarah Kovich, founder of RideShare2Vote.

Kovich started the company in 2018 to get out the Democratic vote but said volunteers will drive anyone to the polls and back for free – no matter their party.

Voters in need of a ride can schedule a ride online or download the company's app to hail a ride. If you prefer to call for a ride, the company recommends you give at least two hours notice.

“We believe that our democracy works best when everybody votes. So, there are no questions asked. Nobody is going to turn you down. if you want or need a ride to vote, we want to take you, it’s just that simple,” said Kovich.

For anyone heading out to vote on Election Day, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Many elections administrators told NBC 5 they did not anticipate long lines – pointing to the turnout during three weeks of early voting in Texas.

“The good news is I think we've had so many people vote early. We're hopeful that on Election Day, we won't have the long lines and long waits that can sometimes happen in November,” said Denton County Elections Administrator Frank Phillips.

If you want to avoid any lines, aim for visiting the polls mid-morning or early afternoon. Polls are typically busier 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and again starting at 5 p.m.

When you get to the polls, it may take a little longer to fill out your ballot. This is the first major election in Texas without the option of straight-party voting. Instead of hitting one selection to pick all the Republican or Democratic candidates, voters will select each candidate one-by-one.

The ballot will also be longer. Many local races and questions were postponed from May during the pandemic.

In Collin County, for example, that added up to about 30 races.

“Voters may not even know until they get in the voting booth that they have a local jurisdiction. So, that's why we want you to study if you can before,” said Collin County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet.

You can go to the county you’re registered to vote in and view your sample ballot. You’re allowed to print it, fill it out at home and take it with you to reference your selections as you vote in person. You’re just not allowed to show your completed sample ballot to anyone else at the polling location.

You can look up your personal sample ballot for Dallas County here. In Tarrant County, head to this site. For Collin County voters, you can look up sample ballots here. In Denton County, head to this website to find your sample ballot.

It’s important to note that voters in Dallas, Tarrant and Collin Counties may vote at any polling location. You can find out if your county is part of the countywide polling place program here.

Early Voting Wait Times

Voting locations are open at different times on different days. Click here to see a schedule by county. Anyone standing in line at when the polling location closes will be allowed to vote.

Voters in Denton County must go to their assigned precinct. You can look up your precinct using your address here.

We don't want you to stand in line just to find out that you're at the wrong location,” Phillips explained.

Elections Departments across North Texas are strongly encouraging voters to wear masks – as they did during much of early voting. An order that came down last week requiring masks lasted less than a day after a federal appeals court put a stop to an order that extended Governor Greg Abbott’s mask mandate to polling locations.

Voters are also asked to socially distance while in line and voters may consider bringing their own pens, though elections departments say they are supplying writing instruments as well.

We have gloves, hand sanitizer, we have everything that we could possibly put in place to make sure that we're keeping everyone safe in our polling places,” said Sherbet.

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