Collin County

North Texas Election Officials Prepare for Record Voter Turnout

With a high interest in the presidential race, local election officials are preparing for record voter turnout in a pandemic

NBCUniversal, Inc.

For the first time in Texas, you can vote at any polling location in your county on Election Day or during early voting. 

While Collin County Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet said he expects record turnout, he doesn't expect long wait times unless people wait until the last day of early voting to cast their vote. 

“[It’s] going to be an all-time record because we have 100,000 more registered voters in Collin County than we did four years ago,” said Sherbet.  

“That’s historically the heaviest day of voting, so we encourage you to pick a middle-of-the week day if you can, middle morning or mid-afternoon,” Sherbet said. “Those are non-peak times.” 

Voters in Tarrant County will have at least 26 races to decide. That’s why Tarrant County Elections Administrator Heider Garcia wants voters to do their research before going to the polls. Voters can review their sample ballots on the county’s election website

“Take your time to know your ballot and make your experience shorter,” Garcia said. “If you take one or two minutes rather than eight or 10, people behind you in line are waiting less.” 

The American Airlines Center opened Tuesday as a “Mega Center” for early voting. Thousands are expected to vote at the location before Oct. 30.

To ease long lines and coronavirus concerns, counties will track polling place wait times on their websites. 

Another first this year in North Texas will include voting mega centers. 

Dallas' American Airlines Center will be able to accommodate dozens of voters while still allowing six feet of separation between voting booths.

“There is this interest, there is that excitement -- more so than at any time in the 33 years I have been with Dallas County,” said Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole.

Pippins-Poole said the AAC will hold about 50 voting machines and voters entering will sanitize their hands at the door before receiving a sanitized stylus.

“We want it to be a touch-free environment for them,” said Pippins-Poole.

Early voting, based on mail-in ballots, is already on a historic pace, according to Pippins-Poole. So far, the county has sent out more than 90,000 mail-in ballots with about 30,000 returned.

Dallas County Election officials are preparing for historic early voting turnout – opening 10 more early voting sites than in 2016, including the American Airlines Center – the largest in county history.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit said it is also preparing for an increased early voting demand by expanding the number of days it will be offering free rides. In addition to Election Day, free rides will be available on Oct. 17 and Oct. 24.

“Every year we offer free rides on Election Day, we decided to extend it two more Saturdays because this is the only chance they will have,” said Gordon Shattles with DART.  

In Collin County, the Allen Event Center will also open as a polling place for the first time. Voters can expect hand sanitizer stations, social distancing and campaign staff to be wearing masks and gloves. 

While election officials encourage voters to wear masks, they can not mandate voters to wear one. 

“We’ll be wearing masks and we encourage voters to wear their mask, too,” Sherbet said. 

Early voting begins Tuesday, Oct. 13 and runs through Oct. 30. Election Day is Nov. 3.

Contact Us