Early voting begins at Eastfield

A poll worker sits behind a plexiglass shield at the check-in station to vote in the C Building. The location has a hand sanitizer station for voters right when they walk in. Although the sign says “masks required,” voters who don’t wear one will be allowed to vote.  Photo by Skye Seipp/The Et Cetera
By SKYE SEIPP
@seippetc

Early voting began Monday for the Democratic primary runoff election for U.S. Senator, state and national representatives and other officials in Dallas County.

Winners of the runoff election will be on the ballot for the general election in November. This runoff election was initially scheduled to take place on May 26 but was moved to July 14 due to the coronavirus.

Eastfield’s main campus is serving as an early voting location in the C Building, and the Pleasant Grove campus — now the Dallas College Pleasant Grove Center — is also offering early voting in rooms 108 and 109. All Dallas College campuses and some centers are early voting locations.

To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, officials are asking voters to wear masks, but Precinct Judge Charles Mullin Jr. said it is not a requirement to vote. He added there are a limited number of masks available for voters if they forget to bring one.

Although masks are required for employees and students on campus right now, Mullin said since Texas does not have a rule mandating masks must be worn, it is not a requirement to vote. However, poll workers are required to wear masks, and Mullin said there are sanitation procedures in place.

The bucket to drop off stylus pens is near the exit of the C Building at Eastfield. Photo by Skye Seipp/The Et Cetera

“We don’t want people to stay away from voting just because they’re afraid of COVID-19,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to stop it from spreading.”

Upon entering the C Building, voters have the option to get hand sanitizer and towels. From there they approach the check-in area that is guarded by plastic shields and are given a stylus pen. The stylus is used for voters to check-in and place their vote. The pen is then dropped off and cleaned by poll workers.

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Eastfield is equipped with six voting stations, four of which are spread out to adhere to social distancing guidelines. The other two are placed on tables to give voters the option of sitting down while casting their ballots. There is tape marking places on the floor for voters to stand 6 feet apart.

Curbside voting is also open to anyone. Voters at Eastfield who choose this option can call 469-222-8842 when at the parking lot. Mullin said a worker will bring the check-in station out to the voter and then the voting machine after they are approved.

Voters at other locations in Dallas County can call 214-819-6338 for more information on curbside voting.

Democrats in Texas had called on Attorney General Ken Paxton to expand mail-in voting to include people concerned about catching COVID-19. The appeal was denied by Paxton, the Texas Supreme Court and the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court later upheld the ruling from the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“State election officials have many options available to safely and securely hold elections without risking widespread fraud,” Paxton said in a written statement on June 26.

[READ MORE: ‘They’re afraid to go to the doctor sometimes’: Immigrants’ uncertainty increases during pandemic]

Mullin said Eastfield isn’t a popular voting location, and in the past, a lot of traffic was generated by students and campus employees. Now that COVID-19 has rendered Eastfield basically empty, Mullin said they aren’t expecting many people to show up for this election.

The polls were near empty for the first half the day at the C Building, with eight people, four of whom were poll workers, having cast their ballots by 1:30 p.m.

“It’s not a really big election,” Mullin said. “But it’s important that everybody make their voice heard. We’ve seen all kinds of protests in the streets, but that doesn’t make any difference if they don’t turn it into their vote. If they really want to affect change, the best thing they can do is come in off the street and vote.”

Both Eastfield polling locations are open from 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. through Thursday this week. Friday and Saturday voting booths are closed for the Fourth of July, but polls open back on Sunday through Friday, July 10 from 7 a.m.- 7 p.m.

Polls on Election Day, July 14, are open from 7 a.m.- 7 p.m. at both locations.

For more information, visit dallascountyvotes.org.

Who’s on the ballot in Dallas?

*Candidates in order as they appear on the official sample ballot

 United States Senator:

Royce West 

Mary “MJ” Hegar

United States Representative, District 24:

Kim Olson

Candace Valenzuela

Railroad Commissioner:

Chrysta Castañeda

Roberto R. “Beto” Alonzo

State Representative, District 100:

Jasmine Felicia Crockett

Lorraine Birabil 

Criminal District Judge, Court No. 3:

Audra Ladawn Riley

Teresa Jan Hawthorne

Voter ID requirements:

 Voters must be registered to vote 30 days before the election date. To vote, you must bring identification. Approved photo IDs include:

  • Driver’s license
  • State-issued ID
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate
  • Handgun and concealed license
  • United States military ID card with a photo
  • Certificate of citizenship or naturalization with a photo
  • Passport
  • Voter registration certificate with status
  • Veterans Affairs card

If you do not have a photo ID, you can bring one of the following items:

  • Birth certificate
  • Current utility bill
  • Bank statement
  • Government check
  • Paycheck
  • Government document with your name and address

Note: Voters without a photo ID must sign a Reasonable Impediment Declaration as to why you could not obtain a photo ID.

 Mail-in voting requirements:

 To qualify for mail-in voting, you have to be:

  • 65 years of age or older
  • Have a disability
  • Be out of the county during early voting and on Election Day
  • In jail, but still eligible to vote

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