With COVID-19 Precautions in Place, Early Voting Begins in Runoff Election

The election is on July 14

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Counties are taking precautions to help combat the spread of the new coronavirus as early voting in the primary runoff election gets underway.

“Hopefully, the uncertainty and anxiety around COVID is not having much of an effect so far,” said Heider Garcia, Tarrant County Elections Administrator.

The most high-profile race on the ballot will determine the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. Air Force veteran MJ Hegar and Texas Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) were the top two finishers in the March primary.

In Tarrant County, almost 1,500 people voted Monday morning. There was hand sanitizer when voters arrived, ballot booths were 6 feet apart and there was a sanitized stylus to cast ballots.

“Wear a mask. It's the number one thing right now. We are not mandated to wear a mask while voting and if you don't want to wear them, we certainly can't prevent you from casting your ballot," Garcia said. "But I think we are clear by now that wearing a mask when in public is the best thing we can do."

In Tarrant County, there is curbside voting for those unable to enter a polling place. That's the case in Dallas County as well, which also implemented changes for the runoff.

“We try to make it a touch-free environment,” said Toni Pippins-Poole, Dallas County Elections Administrator.

Voters can bring their own stylus or get a sanitized one. There is also a shield to separate voters from the poll workers, voters will have to lift up their mask briefly when the identification is checked and the equipment is 6 feet apart.

“You have 45 locations that you can go to, and you can go to our website and see what other locations can I go to, because some of our small ones, we had to cut the equipment in half just to get that 6 feet distance between that equipment," Pippins-Poole said. "So make sure you know before you go what are some alternative locations that I can go to."

Pippins-Poole said that more than 3,500 people voted by Monday afternoon, and that the county was on track to have higher numbers than in the 2018 runoff election.

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