DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole said for Election Day Tuesday for the primary runoff, there will be nearly 200 fewer voting centers in part because of fear of the coronavirus.
Pippins-Poole said there will be 271 instead of 465 voting centers as initially planned.
Among the reasons for that, she said is polling place judges have told her they are afraid of getting Covid-19 from voters who don’t wear masks.
As a result, the judges won’t be showing up. “Anywhere from 70 to 80 or more that just because of the fear, the fear of voters are not required to wear the masks.”
Under Governor Greg Abbott’s orders, voters are not required to wear masks inside polling places, but he and county officials strongly suggest voters wear them.
At the start of early voting at a Dallas polling place, all voters CBS 11 observed wore masks on their way inside.
The counties provide masks to voters if they request them.
Poll workers and judges are wearing masks and face shields as well.
Voters are also given sanitized styluses to use instead of using their fingers.
Pippins-Poole said they haven’t received any complaints from employees that voters aren’t wearing masks.
In Tarrant County, Elections Administrator Heider Garcia said very few people have decided not to wear a mask while voting, and there haven’t been complaints by his staff.
Garcia said Tarrant County isn’t experiencing the same problem as Dallas County — they have 19 fewer polling locations than in March, 173, down from 192.
He said it’s mostly because some buildings aren’t available. Because of Covid-19, Gov. Abbott delayed the primary runoff from May to July 14.
Garcia said, “A few of them told us we had other plans, we weren’t counting on this and so we lost a few right off the bat. The last two we lost, we did lose because of that both parties were having a hard time finding judges in those specific two locations.”
Pippins-Poole also said some of the buildings they planned to operate voting centers in are now under construction, but would have been available if the election were held in May.
Turnout was higher during the early vote for the primary runoff than in 2016, but is still in the single digits.
Before voting Tuesday, elections administrators recommend people look at their county election’s website to see which voting centers will be open.
They insist the centers will be sanitized and safe.