First day of early voting, lines around Dallas-Fort Worth are off the hook
UPDATE 10-14-2020: Dallas County broke its record for first day of early voting turnout with nearly 60,000 voters casting ballots. The previous record for a presidential election was in 2016, when nearly 59,000 people voted. The early voting period extends until October 30.
Perhaps no surprise but October 13, the first day of early voting in Texas, is witnessing long lines of people waiting to cast their votes in the 2020 Presidential election.
Dallas County Election officials are expecting "historic" early voting turnout, and opened 10 more early voting sites from 2016.
Their expectations were borne out in photos of polling places posted on social media, showing robust lines from Oak Cliff to Allen and beyond.
Dallas County currently has 61 early voting locations, and long lines were the standard across the board, from Redeemer Lutheran School on Park Lane to Fretz Recreation Center on Belt Line Road, with wait times ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours at Oak Cliff Sub-Courthouse.
Eastfield College on the boundary of Dallas and Mesquite had lines snaking around the parking lot with 30-minute waits.
A cool, helpful map from Dallas County shows early voting locations as well as approximate wait times. Registered voters can vote at any location they want.
Collin County polling locations were similarly besieged with extra-long lines observed in McKinney and at two locations in Plano, at Carpenter Park Recreation Center and Davis Library.
Polling places are observing COVID-19 precautions by only allowing a certain number of people at a time, with masks required and sanitizer at the door.
American Airlines Center, the largest polling location in Dallas County, placed social distancing markers on the sidewalk outside. They had 50 voting booths with six-foot spacing between each. They also have a drive-thru option.
To prevent voters from touching the same screen, the county is providing a stylus to each voter. If you want to be environmental, you can bring your own.
This year, there is no straight-ticket voting, so you must vote for each candidate and issue.
One voter reported that the voting machines were acting up at her location and recommended checking your ballot carefully before turning it in.
According to Texas Standard, Texans are making election-year history, setting new records for voter registration, with 1.5 million people who've signed up since 2016. That includes 400,000 new registrants since the pandemic hit.
The longest lines are anticipated for the first and last days of early voting, along with Election Day itself. The last day of early voting is Friday, October 30.
Alex Bentley and Lindsey Wilson contributed to this story.