UPDATE: This story has been updated with vote totals and additional information from other polling sites.
The first voter arrived at the Oak Cliff sub-courthouse on South Beckley Avenue almost an hour before the sun rose on this Election Day. By the time the doors opened, more than 20 people were waiting outside.
There are 463 polling locations throughout Dallas County, all open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today. Registered voters can vote at any of those locations, not just in their precinct. A map with wait times shows that most places are moving along. At around 9 a.m. a red dot over the mega-center at American Airlines Center indicates it has more than a 40-minute wait, but lots of green dots appear throughout the city.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins tweeted that in the first two hours of Election Day voting, 26,874 people cast ballots in the county. Turnout during the three weeks of early voting before Tuesday has already set records across Texas, as around 9.7 million people voted early in 2020, more than the total turnout in 2016, which was just shy of 9 million ballots.
UPDATE, 5:06 p.m.: Based on numbers posted by WFAA from local county officials, by about 3:30 p.m. total votes are up the following percent in North Texas counties, over 2016.
Dallas County: 18%
Tarrant County: 19%
Collin County: 31%
Denton County: 36%
Serein Montien, 20, a student at the University of North Texas, arrived at the sub-courthouse around 6:30 a.m. His work schedule had prevented him from voting earlier.
“Just because of everything that is going on, I think it’s really important for people to get out and vote," Montien said.
Montien said he’s voting for Joe Biden and isn’t sure how he’ll watch the results tonight. He wants to avoid TV and will probably take it all in through Twitter.
UPDATE, 12:04 p.m.: Denton voter Sarita Scott said she may watch the election results roll in tonight, but it depends on her anxiety level. She said she might have to switch to some comedy shows in between to help break up the tension.
It’s exciting to vote on Election Day itself, or “D-Day,” Scott said, who got chills walking into the polling place at Denton’s Civic Center.
“I’m ready to see some more changes and have equal rights for all the people I care about,” she said, and she hopes the country will get a new leader.
There weren’t long lines at the civic center Tuesday morning, but a steady stream of voters trickled in and out. Like many other counties across Texas, Denton County’s early voting total surpassed the total number of residents who voted in the 2016 presidential election, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle.
Despite the high turnout, voters didn’t have to wait long Tuesday because of an increase in local polling locations, said Jordan Villarreal, poll greeter for Angela Brewer, Democratic nominee for state House District 64.
Voter Amy Ashby said that she didn’t have to wait at all.
For Ashby, this is a critical moment in history because of the coronavirus pandemic. She said leadership dictates what happens in these scenarios, so it is important for people to “voice who we want to represent us.”
Ashby said that she’s voted consistently ever since she was able to, but this election feels different.
“It’s a little bit more divisive,” Ashby said. “So it’s really hard, especially because I have friends and family who are totally on the opposite sides of the spectrum.”
College town Denton is known as a liberal city, but Denton County leans Republican. Tuesday morning, Republican Glenn Woodard served as a poll greeter for Denton state Rep. Lynn Stucky, who is up for reelection for HD-64.
Woodard said Stucky is a “very, very wise and sharp guy” who is the type of person the district needs in Austin.
Although he said this year has been challenging because of the pandemic, Woodard said he’s mostly happy with the way that the country has been run for the last four years.
“I’d love to see Texas stay red and be represented by Republicans,” he said. “I hope our nation is able to see that as well, and be able to kind of have a conservative mindset across the country.”
Clinton Hardy, poll greeter for Denton City Council candidate George Ferrie, said local politics are arguably more important than those at the national level because they have a more direct effect on people’s daily lives.
Hardy said some of his friends are voting for the first time ever, and that many people feel as though their basic human rights are at risk under the current administration.
“We can’t spew hate. We have to accept and love each other and for me, there’s one side that does that and another that doesn’t in this specific election,” Hardy said.
Dallas voters are also energized this election.
Gilbert Gallegos initially arrived at 6 a.m. before realizing the polls didn't open until 7 a.m. so went back home to wait a bit. His 14-hour shifts prevented him from casting his ballot early, but he had no problem telling his bosses that if he was late today it was because he was voting.
“I didn’t want to miss this election because the pandemic has caused a lot of havoc and it might even affect the election results. It may take days before we know who wins. Also because we need someone in office who has the best manner to run the country, and Trump has proven himself the last four years, so I’m going with him again. I’m voting for Trump” Gallegos said.
LaToya Forbins arrived at about 6:55 a.m. She had applied for a mail-in ballot but it never arrived, so she made her way to the polls early today. She said she's voting for Biden.
"There’s a lot that I see that Trump has done, but at the same time, I definitely can’t ignore the racist antics and the homophobia," Forbins said. "I am Christian. I believe in conservative views, but I also believe that being a Christian you cannot impose your views on other people and expect everybody to live the way you want to live. I believe that people deserve the freedom to live the way they want to live if it’s not harming anyone else.”
At just 18 years old, this was Angelica's (last name not given) first time to vote. She works overnight at Amazon and was a bit bleary-eyed after just ending her shift. After she votes she'll go home and sleep the day away then will be back at work this evening, where she hopes to be able to check her phone for results during breaks.
UPDATE, 11:50 a.m.: The line at American Airlines Center was nearly nonexistent around 10 a.m. A handful of people stood outside the entrance. Two were voters, one was a poll worker and one was security.
At the line’s longest, just about an hour prior, it only took one trio of voters 16 minutes to go from the back of the line to inside the building where they would cast their votes. They came out about 25 minutes later.
Ian Holloway, one of the voters at AAC, said he always votes on Election Day. “It’s just kind of fun,” he said. It’s more exciting to participate on the day the results are coming in, he said.
There was no line when he got to AAC, but there was a minor hiccup when he got inside. The poll workers told him that his voter status was suspended because he didn’t have an updated address.
Initially, he thought this would be an issue that would keep him from voting. But, he said he was surprised to find it only took a few minutes to sort out before he could get inside the voting booth.
“I thought Texas had a suppressive voter regiment, so I thought I wouldn’t be able to vote, but I got through no problem,” he said.
He said he is not a big fan of either presidential candidate, but that if Texas has a chance at turning blue, he wants to be a part of it.
Election Day wasn’t going so smoothly for others.
Across the street, outside the Lexus Garage, advocates for several blue candidates on the ballot encouraged voters as they crossed the street to go vote.
Among the advocates was Lakerria S., a would-be Election Day voter. She was waiting on her uncle to come out of American Airlines Center, the second polling location she had been to that morning to try to cast her ballot.
She goes to school and is registered out of county, but was told she’d be able to vote at the AAC. When she got through the line, however, a poll worker said she couldn’t be found in the system and that she likely wouldn’t be able to vote today unless she drove back to her college town, about three hours away.
She was considering whether or not to drive back so she can vote.
Another voter among the group of advocates, Mia Rodriguez, said she is from out of state and would have voted early if it didn’t take so long to get her voter registration worked out. She said she was hoping to get her valid voter registration card all last week, in time for early voting, but didn’t have any luck.
Yesterday, she finally went up to the election office and was told all she needed to do was sign a waiver to be able to vote. She was the third person in line around 6 a.m. at a voting location in North Dallas.
Voters have until 7 p.m. to get in line to vote; anyone in line by 7 p.m. will be allowed to cast their ballot no matter how long the wait is. Anyone who arrives after 7 p.m. will not be allowed to stand in line and vote. Don’t be that guy.
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