Lines form early, wait times long as early voting begins in Central Texas
(KWTX) - Lines formed early and some voters reported problems with voting terminals and waits of as long as three or four hours as early voting got underway Tuesday in Central Texas.
At one early voting site, an elderly woman passed out while waiting in line.
Gov. Greg Abbott extended the early voting period by a week amid the COVID-19 outbreak in an election in which voters will decide not only the presidential race, but also races for U.S. Senate, the U.S. House and the state Legislature.
Statewide more than 760,000 residents voted Tuesday.
Lines were long Tuesday at the early voting site at the Copperas Cove Civic Center.
In McLennan County, 5,149 residents lined up to vote Tuesday.
In Limestone County, 811 residents voted Tuesday; 99 Falls County residents voted; 334 Bosque County residents voted; 825 voted Tuesday in Freestone County; 302 voted Tuesday in Hamilton County, 626; in Limestone County 797 votes were cast; 439 voted Tuesday in Leon County; 168 voted Tuesday in Mills County, and 161 voted Tuesday in San Saba County.
At the Bell County Annex in Temple, voters said wait times were approaching three hours.
One resident reported an almost five-hour wait at the Bell County Courthouse Annex in Belton.
She said poll workers told waiting voters at one point all but one of the terminals in the annex was down.
At the Waco Multi-Purpose Community Center voters reported waits of as long as 40 minutes.
Problems with voting terminals developed Tuesday morning shortly after the doors opened at the Killeen Community Center where more than 1,000 residents stood in line for as long as four hours.
The line at the Harker Heights Parks & Recreation Center wrapped around the parking lot.
Some of the voters who were waiting said they were told several terminals went down shortly after 7 a.m.
A KWTX reporter said he saw an elderly woman who was waiting to vote pass out.
Poll workers later said the terminals were working and said wait times were long because fewer terminals are available in order to provide social distancing.
Bell County Elections Administrator Matthew Dutton said just three voting terminals went down Tuesday countywide and said he’s working with County Judge David Blackburn to try to place additional terminals at early voting sites to help shorten wait times.
The president of the Texas Medical Association, Dr. Diana Fite, says with proper precautions, going to the polls shouldn’t be any more dangerous than a trip to the grocery store.
“We do want people to stay six feet apart and that is one reason the lines are so long because people seem to be doing that,” she said Tuesday.
“We want people to wash and use sanitizer before and after you vote. We would like you to wear a face mask even though you might have to take that off to see election judge to get identified, but that will be for a few seconds,” she said.
She suggests taking advantage of the extended early voting period.
“You may not want to wait until the last-minute on Nov. 3,” she said.
“What if you do wake up and you are actually sick; then you should not feel forced to go vote and expose other people.”
Most county-level races were decided in the March primaries, but most statewide and regional races are contested.
In addition voters will also decide city and school board races and not only those normally scheduled for November, but also a number that were carried over after May elections were canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
(Drake Lawson, Eric Franklin, Shay Tracy, Rosemond Crown and Megan Vanselow contributed to this story)
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