FORT WORTH, Texas - There were a few hiccups on the first day of early voting in Tarrant County, but overall elections officials were pleased with how the day went.
The latest numbers coming in show more than 42,000 votes were cast in-person on the first day of early voting. That’s only about 3.5% of all registered voters in the county. But there’s still more than two weeks to vote early.
Tarrant County elections officials say a COVID diagnosis affected three early voting centers in Euless, Keller and at the Villages of Woodland Springs in Fort Worth.
“One of the poll workers that went to training on Thursday called last night to say, ‘I tested positive for COVID,’” explained Tarrant County Elections Administrator Heider Garcia. “So we decided every poll worker that was in that class would not show up today just out of precaution until we know they’re not infected. And so this morning, we were scrambling to get replacement crews in there.”
Elections officials say they were able to get enough personnel to open the affected locations on time, except at the Euless Family Life Senior Center. It opened around 11 a.m., frustrating some voters who had lined up early.
“When they told people it’s not open, they should’ve been giving people information as to where is open,” said voter Darlene Beard.
Footage from SKY4 showed solid turnout at polling sites like Keller Town Hall and the Poly Sub-Courthouse on Miller Street in Fort Worth.
The presidential race is driving what could be record turnout, but other issues have more local importance.
Voters in Arlington are deciding on a quarter cent sales tax increase. The money would go toward infrastructure and development.
Political analyst Alan Saxe says all things considered, including the current pandemic, he believes there should be significantly more voting sites available.
“I would love in my neighborhood in Southwest Arlington to be able to walk to the corner and vote. I know that sounds crazy, but I would love to be able to do that,” Saxe said. “Could the county afford it? Maybe not on every corner, but you shouldn’t have to wait in a line for hours to vote.”
Garcia says even with the expected turnout and added safety precautions, he is satisfied with how things have started off.
“It’s moving faster than anticipated, we are seeing voters cast ballots pretty quick,” he said. “That tells us hopefully they came in informed and know exactly what they want to do and that helps us a lot.”
Garcia continues to urge voters to plan ahead. A good way to do that is to log onto the county's website and print a sample ballot to know what races people will vote on.
Since 2016, the number of registered voters in Tarrant County has jumped by 11%.
Thousands of voters in Tarrant County did choose to vote by mail. The county sent out more than 77,000 mail-in ballots this year. So far, 33,000 have already been securely returned.
Early voting continues until Oct. 30.